A fire that forced the evacuation of a large North Spokane apartment complex last week and left 15 people homeless has been blamed on cigarettes, but a second fire a short time later in a different unit appears to have been purposely ignited, authorities said today.
In the first fire, reported at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, investigators traced ignition of the blaze to a portion of a balcony containing smoking materials at the Autumn Ridge Apartments, 7022 N. Colton St., the Fire Department announced today. The fire, determined to be accidental, spread up the vinyl siding from unit A205’s balcony, then burned through soffits and into the attic before firefighters could get it extinguished.
But the fire in a different unit in the same complex two hours later has been determined by investigators to have been intentionally set, said Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer.
The unit was unoccupied and being used by maintenance crews at the time for storage. The investigation is continuing.