November 10, 2012 in Washington Voices

Fire department calls down one-fifth

By The Spokesman-Review

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews responded to a fire at the Wheelers Produce barn at 21301 E. Trent Ave., in Otis Orchards on Nov. 3. The fire started when a spark ignited gas fumes.
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Map of this story's location

The Spokane Valley Fire Department recorded a drop in the number of calls the week of Nov. 1-7 to 195. The department had been running at 250 or more calls per week for the past several weeks.

The drop was probably largely due to a lesser number of EMS calls, which was down to 158, said Assistant Fire Marshal Bill Clifford. “That’s definitely down,” he said.

Crews responded to multiple fire calls, most of them minor. The most significant fire reported was at the Wheeler Produce barn at 21301 E. Trent Ave. in Otis Orchards on the morning of Nov. 3. The property owner was using an electric pump to transfer gas from a 55-gallon drum to the tank of a 1955 tractor when a spark ignited gas fumes after the tank overflowed.

“He grabbed the power cables and pulled them off the battery, which caused a spark,” Clifford said.

The roof of the barn was on fire when crews arrived and damage was largely limited to the roof, Clifford said. “It was extremely tall,” he said. “I don’t think the fire had spread to the walls.”

Residents in a home in the 15100 block of East Kallas Court set their deck on fire Monday evening after setting up a portable fire pit, Clifford said. The flames burned a hole in the deck. “If they weren’t there it could have been a lot worse,” Clifford said. “The code specifically states that the portable fire pit has to be at least 25 feet from any combustible structure.”

Smaller fires were caused by an electrical malfunction in a stove and a pan that caught fire after the resident fell asleep. There were also five yard waste fires reported. Burning yard waste is illegal except in a few areas where it is allowed with a permit, Clifford said. “That’s a high number,” Clifford said. “Usually we get one or two.”

Crews responded to 13 car accidents during the week, including one involving three children walking west on Buckeye Avenue that were attempting to cross Argonne Road at 1:53 p.m. Sunday. Two of the children were hit by a car, but only received minor injuries, Clifford said. “They got lucky,” he said.

It isn’t unusual for the department to get calls from people who have locked themselves out of their house, car or apartment. In fact, the department got one this week. But it is unusual to get a call from someone who needs help getting out of a locked building. A customer of Valley Fitness, 14210 E. Sprague Ave., called the department for help at 8:14 p.m. on Nov. 3. “Somebody was in there working out and employees had left and locked the building up while he was in the bathroom,” Clifford said.

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