July 4, 2013 in City

Firework shot from vehicle threatens homes

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Spokane firefighters overhaul a wood retaining wall after a mortar shell started a fire on both sides of Courtland Avenue near Monroe Street, July 4, 2013 in Spokane, Wash.
(Full-size photo)

Spokane firefighters raced today to save several homes after someone reportedly shot a firework out of a moving pickup near the intersection of Monroe Street and Cora Avenue and started a brush fire that burned nearly an acre of grass and brush.

Battalion Chief Clive Jones said crews were dispatched at 1:56 p.m. to reports of a brush fire with a building threatened.

“We are investigating reports that someone fired a firework from a vehicle into the field. We stopped the fire at the top of the hill” just shy of several homes on Glass Avenue, Jones said.

A fire investigator was on scene talking to witnesses who said they saw someone in a white Ford F-150 fire what appeared to be a multiple-shot mortar that started fire on both sides of Cora Avenue.

The fire burned up the hill in grass and ponderosa pine trees north of Cora and burned a line of trees and shrubs and melted a vinyl fence next to an unoccupied building at 3400 N. Monroe St.

Christopher Helm, who lives next to that building, said he was working on plumbing inside his home and had his water shut off.

“I walked out and saw a firetruck and smoke. I didn’t even know this was happening,” Helm said.

The fire reached his property and fire crews moved his pop-up camper trailer. Fire burned grass right up to the trailer and melted some of the trailer’s siding and a light cover before firefighters pushed it out of the way.

“The firefighters saved my camper,” Helms said. “I had no idea this was taking place. My wife was just pulling up. That’s crazy.”

The family had plans to watch fireworks tonight. But with a lot of local kids shooting off fireworks in the neighborhood for the last couple of days, he was rethinking his holiday plans.

“It makes me a little nervous to leave my house,” he said.

Up on Glass Avenue, the closest road above the fire, Mike Fairburn said he was reading when he looked out and saw smoke billowing up. He ran over and looked down at the fire that burned about 15 minutes before the first fire crews arrived.

“It was actually traveling very slowly. You could just tell by the moisture in the plants that it was not moving very fast,” Fairburn said. “But in another week, I would be nervous. We are fortunate for the timing of it.”

South of Cora, fire got into railroad ties which forced fire crews to dismantle a retaining wall to get at the fire. Crews were still doing mop-up at about 3 p.m.

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