March 5, 2011 in Washington Voices

Firefighters hampered by gawkers, narrow roads in gated community

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Two apartments were heavily damaged in a fire at the Manor Vale Apartments at 10101 E. Main Ave., March 1.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location

There were two major fires in the Valley area the week of Feb. 24 to March 2, but no one was injured. Firefighters even managed to rescue a cat from a burning apartment.

The first fire was reported at 2:24 p.m. on Feb. 24. A caller reported seeing smoke and flames inside a gated manufactured home community. Firefighters responded to the 19300 block of East Nora Avenue, but found their way slowed by narrow streets and people who came to see what was going on, said Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford. “It was kind of limited access back in this little manufactured home area,” he said.

The fire was in a shop, and a fifth-wheel trailer and some construction equipment were destroyed, but a boat was saved. There were some propane and welding tanks in the shop, but they did not explode. “Usually those won’t explode,” Clifford said. “They’ll ventilate themselves.”

The cause of the fire is undetermined because of the extensive damage, estimated at more than $150,000, Clifford said. There was a propane heater in the shop, but there wasn’t enough evidence to conclusively link it to the fire, he said.

The second fire was only two blocks from Station 1. Residents in the Manor Vale Apartments at 10101 E. Main Ave. called to report an apartment on fire at 9:30 a.m. on March 1. “Nobody was in that apartment at the time when the fire started,” Clifford said. “It burnt out through that window, went up the side of the building and into the window of the other apartment above.”

A cat was found in the apartment where the fire started. The cause of the fire was combustible items placed too close to a heater, Clifford said. The damage will probably total more than $100,000.

Four residents were displaced by the fire and three other tenants from adjoining apartments were briefly unable to stay in their residences.

The rest of the week included vehicle fires, illegal debris fires and small kitchen fires. A snowplow pushed snow into a gas meter at a business on Trent Avenue and broke it, and a drunk driver hit and snapped off a fire hydrant near Fourth Avenue and Sullivan Road.

The fire department also responded to several calls for broken water pipes during the recent cold snap.

There were 170 EMS calls during the week. Only three people were transported to the hospital after fire crews responded to 19 car accidents.


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