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Crews snuff variety of secondary blazes

Cigarettes suspected cause in two fires

A series of small fires caused by everything from cigarettes to cooking mishaps kept Spokane Valley Fire Department crews busy the week of June 5-12.

A cigarette is the suspected cause of a fire in landscaping bark outside the Wendy’s restaurant at 5615 E. Sprague Ave. on Sunday. “No building damage at all, just a burned bark area,” said assistant fire marshal Bill Clifford.

A discarded cigarette is also believed to have caused a grass fire along westbound Interstate 90 near the Argonne on-ramp. It was reported just before 4 p.m. Monday. A second grass fire was reported a little more than an hour later in the 12400 block of East First Avenue. Officials say fireworks likely caused that blaze.

A cooking fire caused $10,000 in damage to a home in the 1100 block of North University Road at 10:15 a.m. June 7. A grease fire that spread to the kitchen cabinets was reported at the Twin Pines Apartments at 12411 E. Eighth Ave. at 2:11 p.m. Sunday. “Luckily that apartment complex has a sprinkler system built into it, which extinguished the fire,” Clifford said.

A woman and two children were able to get out of the apartment safely. The fire caused $15,000 in damage.

Children are believed to have set a fire under a tree near Mirabeau Park on Sunday morning. Some debris was set on fire near a gravel pit in the 12900 block of East 39th Lane on Tuesday afternoon. “We think we know the kids that did it,” Clifford said. “It could have spread up the hill there, if the winds had been high that day.”

Residents in the 5900 block of East 19th Avenue reported seeing smoke in the area shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday. It appears that a car was burning rubber in the area while someone filmed it, Clifford said. The car was gone when firefighters arrived. “That probably took a few miles off those tires, I’m guessing,” he said.

The department’s swift-water rescue team pulled a kayaker from the Spokane River around 3:30 p.m. Sunday. His kayak overturned near Flora Road, and he was swept downstream. Rescuers caught up to him near the Spokane Valley Mall.

The 51-year-old man had all the proper safety equipment, Clifford said. “He was wearing a life jacket, and that kept him afloat,” Clifford said. “We were able to get to him and pull him to shore.”

The department responded to 247 emergency medical service calls during the week. There were 21 car accidents reported, including a collision between a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old on dirt bikes in the 1400 block of South McKenzie. Both boys had lower leg injuries and were transported to a hospital, Clifford said.

A homeowner trimming his lawn with a riding lawn mower caused a gas leak in the 4600 block of North Best Road on Sunday evening of when he hit his gas meter with the mower, Clifford said. Firefighters evacuated the immediate area until Avista Utilities arrived to shut down the leak, he said.