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Chimney fires on increase in Spokane Valley

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews are noticing an uptick in chimney fires and fires started by fireplace ashes that have been improperly handled. Assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford said all fireplaces and wood stoves should be inspected and cleaned every year. Ashes, even if you think they are cold, should be placed in a metal container far from any building, he said.

“We’re seeing this year so far an increase in chimney fires,” Clifford said.

There were two incidents recently where homeowners cleaned out a fireplace and put the ashes away from buildings but placed them in combustible containers. The containers caught fire but didn’t spread to the home. “Both of those fires were noticed the next day,” Clifford said.

In the past, fires have also started in closets after a vacuum cleaner was used to clean up fireplace ashes and then put away, Clifford said.

Other events from Nov. 21-Dec. 4.

Nov. 22: An outside fire was spotted at Berean Bible Church, 10910 E. Boone Ave., just after 7 p.m. The flames caused $45,000 in damage. The cause is under investigation.

Nov. 24: A driver heading south on Argonne Road from Trent Avenue crossed into the northbound lanes and hit a concrete abutment just before 9 p.m. The vehicle was significantly damaged and the driver was bleeding heavily from a neck wound. He was transported to the hospital.

Nov. 26: A detached garage caught fire in the 11700 block of East Broadway Avenue just after 3 a.m. Two cars were destroyed, along with all the family’s Christmas presents. Damage was estimated at $65,000. The cause is under investigation.

Firefighters responded to a single vehicle rollover accident in the 2100 block of North Ella Road at 9:30 p.m. The driver’s arm was pinned underneath the roof of the car while it was on its top. He was extricated and taken to the hospital.

Nov. 27: A car hit an East Valley school bus in the 4700 block of North McDonald Road. Damage was minor.

Nov. 30: Firefighters responded to people burning insulation off of copper wire in the 10800 block of East Olive Avenue.

By the numbers: Crews responded to 490 calls in the two-week period, including 382 emergency medical service calls. There were also six illegal trash/yard waste fires, 32 car accidents, an elderly woman who needed help unlocking a screen door and a dog trapped in a crawl space.