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Items near fireplace ignite, severely damage residence

Sat., April 6, 2013, midnight

A home at 4908 E. First Ave. was severely damaged by fire just after 1:30 a.m. on March 29.

Fire investigators have determined that the fire was accidental, said Spokane Valley Fire Department assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford.

Combustible items had been placed too close to the fireplace, Clifford said. The home had no power. “They were using the fireplace to heat the home,” he said.

Neighbors spotted the fire and helped the resident get out of the home, Clifford said. Firefighters found flames coming out every door and window when they arrived. They were told that a woman was also staying at the home and couldn’t be found. “We did three searches for her,” Clifford said.

It turned out that the woman wasn’t home. She arrived at the scene about an hour after firefighters did, Clifford said. The resident and a neighbor were taken to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.

Damage to the home is estimated at $50,000. The resident told firefighters that there was a smoke detector in the house, but the battery had been removed.

A potentially serious fire was also among the 236 calls the department responded to during the week of March 28 to April 3. A cigarette discarded in a plastic trash container started a fire on an apartment balcony at 2820 N. Cherry St. The smoke was spotted and called in just after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“The garbage can had started to fail and melt and fall over,” Clifford said. “We got there just in time to put the fire out.”

No one was home in the apartment. Clifford said the fire easily could have been more serious if the smoke hadn’t been spotted in time. Cigarettes should be disposed of in a metal container, never a plastic container or a potted plant – potting soil is flammable.

Crews responded to 17 car accidents and transported six people to the hospital. A couple of the accidents involved pedestrians or motorcycles. Clifford urged people to look around carefully while driving. “Since the weather is nicer people are out and about and so are motorcycles,” he said.

One of the motorcycle accidents resulted in a serious but not-life-threatening leg injury. It was reported in the 17400 block of East Trent the afternoon of March 29. A 50-year-old man reportedly rear-ended a car that was slowing but still going about 50 mph, Clifford said. The rider was thrown into the street.

Other calls during the week included two car fires, a report of children playing with a fire extinguisher in the 3000 block of South Pines and a call to provide a ladder to allow police access to a rooftop. Crews also responded to 198 emergency medical service calls and three illegal yard waste fires.

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