July 5, 2013 in City

Monroe hill fire threatens buildings

Passing truck fired firework into field, investigator told
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Firefighters overhaul a retaining wall after a firework started a fire Thursday along North Monroe Street.
(Full-size photo)

Firefighters raced Thursday to save several north Spokane homes after someone reportedly shot a firework out of a moving pickup 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 near the intersection of Monroe Street and Cora Avenue, 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, burned a line of trees and shrubs and melted a vinyl fence next to an unoccupied building at 3400 N. Monroe St.

South of Cora, fire got into railroad ties which forced fire crews to dismantle a retaining wall to get at the fire.

Christopher Helm, who lives next to that building, said he had been working on plumbing inside his home.

“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.”

The family had plans to watch fireworks Thursday night. But with a lot of kids shooting off fireworks in the neighborhood for the last couple of days, Helm 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 the hill. He ran over and looked down at the fire that burned about 15 minutes before the first fire crews arrived.

“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.”

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