July 28, 2011 in City

Arson blamed in Beacon Hill brush fires

By The Spokesman-Review
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Three brush fires along the southwest flank of Beacon Hill on Wednesday are now being investigated as arsons, officials said today.

The fires burning in rugged terrain east of Minnehaha Park drew fire crews from around the region, including the Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Firefighters remained on the scene through the night and continued to monitor the area this morning, said Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.

He said the fact that three fires occurred in succession a short distance apart has led authorities to believe they were intentionally set.

The area has been a trouble-spot for fires over the years. Last July, a human-caused fire burned five acres in the same vicinity.

In the past 40 years, more than 100 fires have occurred in that area, according to news files.

The area attracts transients and illegal camping along with bicycle riders and other outdoor users.

In Wednesday’s incident after 4:30 p.m., the state dispatched a new fire plane to dump water on the blaze.

Schaeffer said the newly acquired aircraft operated well in the difficult area and laid down water precisely on the fire line.

Crews from Fire District No. 9 also responded to the blaze.

One fire started near tennis courts at Minnehaha Park and blackened a quarter acre before the two additional fires were detected. Two homes in the area and communication equipment atop Beacon Hill were threatened.

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