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More fires near schools reported

Several Spokane Valley schools were hit with arson fires the week of July 12-18, but all the fires were outdoors and caused limited damage.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department made four arrests last week in the wake of 20 arson fires. Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford said the new fires may be the result of a copycat. “We don’t believe they’re related to the other ones,” he said.

A fire was reported in construction materials next to East Farms Elementary School at 2:34 a.m. July 16. “Somebody had dumped some accelerants over a stack of construction lumber and lit that on fire,” Clifford said.

The fire department responded to Mountain View Middle School on Tuesday, where several bushes burned. “I believe the fire had started the night before and we were called to investigate it the next day,” Clifford said. Investigators believe those two school fires are related, he said.

There was also an arson fire in a large Dumpster behind West Valley High School reported at 8:46 p.m. Monday. Someone removed mail from several mailboxes in the 5000 block of North Canal Road at 5:30 a.m. on July 12 and lit the mail on fire in the middle of the street.

Anyone with information on any of the fires is asked to call the department at (509) 928-1700.

Perhaps the most unusual fire call came at 2:17 p.m. July 13 in the 1600 block of South Bolivar Road. A teenager was trying to sharpen the blades on a riding lawn mower, but instead of removing the blades he tipped the mower on its side and took a grinder to the blades, Clifford said. The fuel leaked and sparks from the grinder set the mower on fire.

The mower was destroyed, but the fire did not spread, Clifford said. “Remove the blades from your mower if you’re going to sharpen them,” he said.

At 8:30 p.m. on Monday, a caller reported seeing the glow of a brush fire in the Dishman Hills. The caller was actually seeing a brilliant sunset, Clifford said. “It ended up being a house up there with large windows that the sun was reflecting off of,” he said.

The crew on duty at the Liberty Lake Station got an unusual request Wednesday morning when a resident stopped by and asked for help rescuing their dog that had gotten trapped in a hole. The crew responded along with a team from the Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service.

The dog, Coco, had been chasing a porcupine when he got stuck. When the dog was finally pulled out of the hole he had a good number of quills stuck in his nose. “Just looking at that picture,” Clifford said, “I’d guess there were at least 30 quills in his nose.”

The department had another week of higher than normal responses, tallying 272 calls. Those included two vehicle fires, three illegal outdoor fires, four downed power lines, 11 car accidents and 205 EMS calls. “We’ve been extremely busy this last month or so,” Clifford said.

Crews also responded to five river rescue calls, including one in the city of Spokane for a man who jumped in the river while eluding police, one that was based on an empty raft that had been abandoned when it began leaking and one for kids jumping off the Argonne Bridge.

Crews were called to the Spokane River at 7:07 p.m. Monday near the Flora trailhead after a man was reported missing after falling off an inner tube. He could not be found and searchers returned to the river the next day. Kyeffer Scott’s body was located a short distance downstream near the Mission Avenue trailhead.

Clifford urged people to be careful on the river. “It’s colder than normal,” he said. “It’s running faster than normal.”

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