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Old farmhouse lost in 12-acre brush fire

This abandoned farm house burned down in a 12-acre brush fire in the 6100 block of North Harvard Road on Sept. 14.
This abandoned farm house burned down in a 12-acre brush fire in the 6100 block of North Harvard Road on Sept. 14.

A three-alarm brush fire dominated the week of Sept. 13-19 for the Spokane Valley Fire Department. The fast moving fire in the 6100 block of North Harvard Road was reported at 12:20 p.m. Sept. 14 and grew to 12 acres before it was put out.

Firefighters were able to save a mobile home threatened by the fire, but the flames consumed an abandoned farmhouse and an outbuilding. “The abandoned house was a total loss,” said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford.

One firefighter had a bad reaction to a bee sting and was taken to the hospital. Another twisted his ankle and five firefighters suffered smoke inhalation. Crews do not use their breathing apparatus on brush fires, Clifford said, partly because they only provide enough air for about 15 minutes.

“You would get way overheated doing that,” he said. “It just wouldn’t be justified on a brush fire.”

Firefighters believe a person started the fire, Clifford said, though the exact cause hasn’t been determined. It could be anything from a dropped cigarette to a dirt bike operating without a spark arrester, he said.

The department was assisted by crews from Newman Lake Fire District 13, the Department of Natural Resources, Fire District 9, Fire District 8, the Spokane Fire Department, and Kootenai Fire and Rescue.

The department responded to a fairly large number of people violating a burn ban that’s in effect. Among the 263 calls were three for illegal yard waste fires and several others for burning garbage or using a burn barrel.

A group of partiers lit a large bonfire in a wooded area off Starr Road. “Their pile size was larger than 10 feet in diameter,” Clifford said. Flames were shooting up to 10 feet in the air and the group was told to put the fire out.

There were also two small kitchen fires, including one in an apartment. The resident apparently left the stove on, Clifford said. “Some neighbors heard the smoke alarm going off,” he said. “We broke in and turned the stove off.”

A fire in a large pile of debris was reported at Sunshine Disposal at 9 p.m. on Wednesday. It was largely extinguished by the business’ sprinkler system, Clifford said. “Without that sprinkler system we would have had our hands full for sure,” he said.

A small brush fire was reported near Sprague Avenue and University Road at 1:24 a.m. on Sept. 15. A cause hasn’t been determined. “It was just in the grass,” Clifford said. “It didn’t catch any buildings or structures on fire.”

A broken belt in the HVAC system caused a call to the Hooters Restaurant on Tuesday morning. The seized motor was turned off and a repairman called, Clifford said.

The department responded to 201 EMS calls and 23 car accidents during the week.