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Awareness of burn ban absent

The week of Aug. 11-17 might have been a quiet one for the Spokane Valley Fire Department if it wasn’t for all the people determined to burn what they shouldn’t when they shouldn’t.

The department responded to five calls for people burning trash or yard waste as well as four other illegal fires, said Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford. A burn ban is currently in effect, so only fires in contained, portable stoves or barbecues are allowed. Clifford said he can understand people not knowing about the ban and having backyard campfires. “It’s the people burning in the 50-gallon barrels or burning yard waste,” he said. “You can’t do that.”

There was one house fire during the week. A neighbor reported spotting light smoke coming from the attic of a vacant house in the 12900 block of East Valleyway Avenue at 1:23 p.m. on Aug. 16. The home had been vacant a long time and neighbors said they have chased away teenagers who filled the inside of the house with graffiti, Clifford said.

Apparently a person had recently been in the home to evaluate it for an auction, Clifford said. “Someone had used the bathroom, leaving the fan on,” he said. The fan overheated and started the fire, causing $25,000 in damage.

There was also a car fire, a motor home fire and couple of downed power lines. A homeowner in the 2800 block of South Steen Court got the attention of the department when he decided to burn the weeds along his driveway. “Hopefully that won’t happen again,” Clifford said. There was also a small brush fire reported in Liberty Lake Park.

There were 181 EMS calls and 18 car accidents during the week. One man on a scooter who broadsided a car later died of his injures. Crews also responded to an accident on Interstate 90 at Evergreen when a car rear-ended another car. Five people were taken to the hospital with minor injuries in that incident.