February 12, 2011 in Washington Voices

Fuel, flames bring lecture

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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A couple of bar customers nearly blew themselves up this week, but disaster was thankfully averted.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department was called to the Sullivan Scoreboard Tavern at 202 N. Sullivan Road by a deputy who saw a fireball at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 5. The flames were mostly out when firefighters arrived, said Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford.

Apparently some bar patrons were helping a friend install some sort of accessory on his truck with a drill. “They drilled through the fuel tank, which spewed a whole lot of fuel on the ground,” Clifford said.

They tried to contain the gushing fuel in buckets and a tarp with limited success before someone had the dubious idea of lighting the fuel on fire to burn it off, Clifford said. “It had quite the fireball,” he said.

No one was injured but the potential for disaster was great, Clifford said. “The person admitted doing it,” he said. “He wasn’t charged but he was sure educated on why you don’t do things like that.”

The department also responded to an arson call just after 4 a.m. on Feb. 9 at 13412 E. Nora Ave. Someone set the back of the building on fire and flames spread through the cedar siding. The fire also entered the building through a vent and went into the walls and ceiling.

As luck would have it, the flames also broke a pipe leading to a toilet. “It came apart somehow,” Clifford said. “It didn’t extinguish the fire all the way, but it really kept it from getting a hold and destroying that building.”

The fire is under investigation. The estimated damage to the building was $40,000. The building was vacant but new tenants were expected to move in within a week, Clifford said.

Firefighters were also called to several fires that turned out to be residents burning yard waste, which is illegal. “Outdoor recreational fires are approved, but burning yard waste and debris is against the fire code and you could be fined,” Clifford said. “We haven’t fined anybody yet on it, but we sure could.”

The department responded to 218 calls between Feb. 3 and 9, which included 177 EMS calls. There were 13 vehicle accidents, but only two people required transport to a hospital.

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