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Illegal burning, suspicious fires busy crews

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews were kept busy the last two weeks with a collection of illegal trash fires, suspicious fires that also kept the department’s arson dog busy and several car accidents.

One of those accidents involved the Engine 3 crew stationed in Liberty Lake. “The crews were out there testing fire hydrants,” said Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford. The crew was out of the engine in the 22900 block of East Appleway Road. when a woman drove into the back of the fire truck.

The engine had its hazard lights and directional warning signals on, Clifford said, and the woman may have been speeding since she left skid marks stretching about 60 feet. The truck is back in service but the back bumper will have to be replaced, Clifford said.

Crews dealt with seven people burning yard debris or other “things they shouldn’t be burning” during the period from April 21 to Wednesday, Clifford said.

Crews were called to a vacant house in the 15600 block of East Fourth Avenue at 5:57 p.m. on April 20. A 15-year-old boy had broken in and set a fire in the basement, but took responsibility for his actions, Clifford said. “He was even the one that called 911 and stayed there and told them what he’d done,” he said. Investigators are recommending that he be charged with arson and burglary, Clifford said.

An attic fire was reported in the 11300 block of East 12th Avenue on April 23, resulting in $15,000 in damage. No one was injured. Another fire was reported at 217 S. Sullivan Road the evening of April 29. A woman on oxygen was smoking and caught her couch and chair on fire, Clifford said. “She was able to be rescued out of her apartment,” he said. She was taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

The department also responded to a grass fire in the 13900 block of East Trent Avenue and a brush fire in the 9300 block of East Cataldo Avenue. The brush fire is considered suspicious, Clifford said. “The past weekend (arson dog) Mako had five fires he was used on,” he said. “He ruled out the use of accelerants.”

The final fire of the week was reported in the 700 block of North Steen Lane on Monday at 5:10 a.m. Residents in the home had been improperly disposing of their cigarettes outside, which caught bark and dried grass on fire, Clifford said. There was about $5,000 in damage to the front porch area of the home.

Someone reported finding two 30-gallon plastic barrels filled with an unknown substance in an alley in the 7300 block of East Sixth Avenue on ThursdayMay 5. Crews responded and called in the Department of Ecology to remove the barrels, Clifford said.

There were 24 vehicle accidents reported during the two weeks, but only three people required trips to the hospital. One of those was a passenger on a motorcycle that crashed in the early morning hours of April 21. It appears that a man and a woman were both intoxicated when they decided to go for a ride without wearing helmets, Clifford said. The woman showed signs of having a head injury and was taken to the hospital, he said.The dangers of drugs were shown to a crew that responded to a call in the 4600 block of East Third Avenue the afternoon of April 22. Someone called 911 to report that a man had approached him and said there was a man trapped inside the concrete barriers holding up a pedestrian walkway over I-90.

Crews did not find a trapped person, but they did spot the man who had asked the 911 caller to call for help. He was “huffing” several aerosol cans to get high, Clifford said. “This is what drugs do to people,” he said.