June 15, 2013 in City

Blaze damages Geno’s restaurant, nearby apartments

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Map of this story's location

Sixteen people are without a home tonight after a three-alarm fire ripped through Geno’s restaurant and a nearby apartment complex near Gonzaga University.

The blaze began shortly after 4 p.m, Fire Chief Bobby Williams said. The fire began near Geno’s, spreading into the kitchen then jumping to the Sinto Apartments on 907 E. Sinto. Williams said investigators have not pinpointed a cause or an exact location where the fire began. It did not appear that anyone was injured.

The fire was mostly extinguished shortly after 6 p.m. Crews continued to battle smaller fires inside the apartments. The eight-unit complex will likely be uninhabitable for some time, Williams said.

SNAP owns and operates the low-income transitional apartments. Red Cross volunteers are working with victims to find housing, food and medical assistance. Fourteen adults, one child and a baby were displaced.

A resident at the Sinto Apartments, Crystal Parmer, said she had just enough time to grab her dog and leave. She didn’t panic until she heard the windows breaking as she left, she said, and realized she likely lost everything in her home.

Joe Barsh, a GU student who was at the restaurant when the fire started, said a handful of people in the restaurant were evacuated. When he saw the fire spreading to the adjacent apartments, he and others went to evacuate people from the building.

“They lost a lot,” Barsh said.

Mark Baier, the owner of Geno’s, said only the restaurant’s kitchen was damaged. The flames did little damage to the newly remodeled addition, which Baier installed about a year and a half ago.

About 15 of Spokane Fire Department’s 18 units responded to the blaze, forcing the department to rely on neighboring departments to respond to another fire on the South Hill and several medical calls through the area, said Asst. Chief Brian Schaeffer.

“One incident wipes out all our resources,” Schaeffer said.

Spokane Fire hasn’t responded to an incident this size since the four-alarm fire that destroyed most of a 12-unit apartment complex on the 700 block of South Lincoln Street in September, Schaeffer said.

North Hamilton will remain closed for several hours while fire crews investigate the scene.

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