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Man attempts lighting fire in gas fireplace

A Spokane Valley resident broke about every rule of using a natural gas fireplace this week but was lucky enough not to burn down the house.

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews were called to a home in the 6800 block of East 11th Avenue at 6:51 p.m. on Tuesday. The home had a gas fireplace in the basement, said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford. “He had removed the ceramic logs and thought he could build a real fire with real logs,” Clifford said. The man also used a road flare to try to light a collection of crumpled newspaper and wood, Clifford said.

“If you have a gas fireplace, it is not meant for a real fire,” Clifford said. “That could cause a major explosion. This guy was lucky. The gas valve was turned off.”

The man removed some of the smoldering items and tried wetting down the remains as the basement filled with smoke, Clifford said. Then he tried smothering the fire with a foam seat cushion.

In the end there was no major fire damage, Clifford said. “When we got there, there was no fire, just a mess,” he said.

Several other fires reported during the week of Nov. 8-14 can be blamed on various heating devices. A chimney fire was reported in the 11100 block of East 36th Avenue on Nov. 9. There wasn’t any major damage, Clifford said. “It was caught early enough.”

A heater left plugged in to a truck camper placed behind a home in the 9600 block of East Broadway started a fire the afternoon of Nov. 8. The camper, which was a complete loss, was fully on fire when crews arrived, Clifford said.

Items pushed up against a baseboard heater in a bathroom started a small fire in a home in the 13800 block of East Valleyway on Nov. 8. A heat lamp in a chicken coop in the 26700 block of East Wellesley was knocked over and started a fire on Nov. 14. “No animals succumbed to the smoke,” Clifford said.

Clifford urged people to perform maintenance on furnaces, heaters and chimneys. Every year there are chimney fires and fires started when flammable objects are placed too close to heaters. “The reason they’re called space heaters is because they need space to breathe,” he said.

An arson fire was reported in the 15200 block of East Fourth Avenue at 10:18 p.m. on Nov. 12. Someone broke into a van parked behind a chain link fence and set it on fire, Clifford said.

Among the 225 calls crews responded to during the week were 182 EMS calls and 13 car accidents.