Local news

In brief: Fire empties women’s shelter

About 35 women were safely evacuated from the Hope House shelter when a small fire broke out in one of the rooms about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Residents of the Volunteers of America women’s shelter at 111 W. Third Ave. were forced outside in 28-degree weather for 15 to 20 minutes. Spokane firefighters ushered them back inside as cleanup work continued.

“No one is going to be displaced here tonight,” Battalion Chief Craig Cornelius said.

He said the fire started in an unoccupied room that was used for storage. Apparently someone put some materials on top of a kitchen stove and accidentally turned it on, Cornelius said. Fire damage was confined to the second-floor storage room, but water from automatic sprinklers damaged the first floor and basement.

Cornelius said the Fire Department was alerted by an alarm system, and sprinklers had largely extinguished the blaze when firefighters arrived.

John Craig

Fire in garage leads to pot grow

A fire that heavily damaged a home at 35 E. Garland Ave. was caused when the occupant cut into a car fuel tank with a torch, authorities said Sunday.

The Saturday fire caused an estimated $25,000 damage to the one-story, wood-frame house, where 40 or more marijuana plants were growing in the basement, according to Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. Spokane police collected the plants and growing equipment.

The occupant claimed to have a medical marijuana card he couldn’t find but eventually admitted it had expired, Schaeffer said.

He said the man had been using a torch to remove parts from a vehicle frame outside the house, and burned a hole in the fuel tank while attempting to remove the straps that held it. Burning gasoline flowed to the house, ignited vinyl siding and quickly spread into the attic, Schaeffer said.

Twenty-seven firefighters did an “excellent job” of controlling the fire within 30 minutes, contrary to televised criticism by the man who started the fire, Schaeffer said.

John Craig

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