August 24, 2013 in Washington Voices

Flag burning sets sledding hill afire

By The Spokesman-Review
 

An early morning walker in Valley Mission Park on Aug. 16 reported finding the remains of a burned flag in the grass on top of the sledding hill east of the pool.

“Somebody had burnt the American flag there, which dropped to the ground and set some grass on fire,” said Spokane Valley Fire Department assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford. “We don’t know when it happened.”

There is no flagpole at that spot in the park, located at 11123 E. Mission Ave. The flag measured about 4-by-6 feet, Clifford said. “It looks like it was probably a flag from somebody’s home,” he said. “Maybe somebody had stolen it from somewhere.”

Anyone with information on the fire is asked to call the department at (509) 928-1700.

A surge in brush fires boosted the number of calls to the department to 272 for the week of Aug. 15-21.

The long stretch of hot weather has created very dry conditions that only need a spark to ignite.

The largest of the brush fires, on Monday, was between the Centennial Trail and the Spokane River north of the Spokane Valley Mall. The fire was in low brush but was being pushed toward trees by the wind when firefighters arrived.

The fire was started by a transient campfire, Clifford said. “He was trying to cook a can of chili over an open fire and fell asleep,” he said. The man appeared to be intoxicated or under the influence of some type of drug, he said. The man was taken to the hospital after complaining of chest pains.

“His pants were singed by the fire,” Clifford said. “We could find no burn marks on him.”

The man was arrested and now faces a charge of reckless burning, Clifford said.

Several fires were reported on Tuesday. A brush fire with an unknown cause was put out behind an apartment complex in the 3700 block of South Highway 27 just before 8:30 a.m. A smoldering recreational fire got away in the 14500 block of East Ninth Avenue just before 2 p.m.

The fire had been built in a fire pit, but weeds had grown up in the middle of the rocks, Clifford said.

“It sounds like they had a fire the night before and they didn’t completely extinguish the fire,” he said. A burn ban is in place and recreational fires are illegal.

Also on Tuesday, an umbrella that somehow got tangled in power cables started a fire in a cemetery at 32nd Avenue and Highway 27 shortly before 2 p.m. A small fire was reported in the 12300 block of East Wellesley Avenue at 4:30 p.m. later that same day. The fire appears to have been started deliberately, Clifford said.

“There was a group of kids in a pickup truck seen leaving the scene,” he said.

Crews also responded to five other illegal recreational fires, two yard waste fires, a minor cooking fire and a small fire started by a cigarette disposed of in a potted plant.

A group of teenagers were reportedly drinking and starting fires in the parking lot of Savageland Pizza on Dishman Road at 11 p.m. Monday. A cigarette started a fire in the 600 block of South Koren Road Tuesday evening.

Crews responded to one technical rescue for a man who was over a steep embankment near the Evergreen Road Interstate 90 overpass. “He was about 20 feet down the embankment,” Clifford said. Firefighters used ropes and a Stokes rescue basket to pull the man up the hill.

During the week, 16 car accidents were reported, four involving pedestrians. All four pedestrians were taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries. There were 201 emergency medical services calls received.


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