As many as 18 residents were burned out of their apartments Thursday morning in a fire on Spokane’s lower South Hill.
The 5:18 a.m. fire started in an entryway in the basement level that did not have a door.
Firefighters quickly stopped the flames at 1314 W. Fifth Ave. after it spread into floorboards and walls on the first and second floors. Smoke penetrated throughout the building, and utility services were damaged, firefighters reported.
Tenant Dudley Adcox said a resident who had been evicted this week had threatened to return and set the building on fire. He said he saw a propane torch next to a pile of burning papers where the fire started.
Adcox said he was asleep on his front room couch when he was awakened by the fire that was “right below me.”
He began yelling and pounding on other tenants’ doors to get them out safely, he said.
“By the time I called the fire department and got everybody out, the blaze was really going,” he said.
The 1909 Craftsman-style building has seven apartments in three stories, he said.
The owner, identified by county records as Amy Harter and Eastside Funding LLC, had placed the property up for sale.
A real estate sales sign at the fire scene had been slashed in two. Adcox said the apparent defacement occurred in recent days.
Lt. Jimmy Bowen, a Spokane fire investigator, said he had not yet determined the cause of the fire but had not ruled out arson. Red Cross volunteers responded to help residents with emergency housing and other needs. The tenants included children in at least two of the families.
No injuries were reported. Damage was estimated at $10,000.