A fire destroyed a century-old home Wednesday afternoon, and three Spokane firefighters suffered heat exhaustion from fighting the blaze.
The sound of crackling alarmed resident Nick Peraud as he relaxed during a sweltering afternoon at his home at 1208 E. Nora Ave. He saw nothing out of the ordinary when he walked through the back door, he said, but moments later, around 3:30 p.m., he saw a wall of fire.
He grabbed his 2-year-old son and started pulling pets out of the two-unit residence as two real estate agents showing nearby houses called 911 and evacuated the neighboring homes.
“By the time I walked around back to see what was going on, the entire house was on fire – I couldn’t even walk back there,” Peraud said.
He called his fiancee, Skye Foster, who was at work, and her boss drove her home. She cried as she saw the smoke pouring from the 105-year-old structure.
A friend took their son away from the chaos and the boy pointed at his burning home saying “fire,” she said.
“I can’t even think past this moment right now,” Foster said. “But I know the necessities are going to be taken care of.”
Initial reports suggested a child was inside the home, Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams said, so crews were searching for occupants for nearly 25 minutes before focusing on extinguishing the fire. Heavy smoke filled the house as portions of it began to collapse. The heat melted a firefighter’s coat.
In addition to the firefighters who were treated for heat exhaustion, a firefighter suffered a burn to his arm, a Fire Department news release said. Their injuries were minor, Williams said.
Firefighters sprayed water on the roofs of neighboring houses to protect them. Crews hooked up to a second fire hydrant nearly two blocks away in case the fire did spread.
Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said the biggest success of the day was preventing the fire from spreading to neighboring homes, but he said the heat did damage two adjacent homes.
Plumes of smoke could be seen throughout the area. Neighbors crowded the sidewalks along Nora and Morton Street.
As flames spurted from the attic, firefighters brought out a reptile cage holding a pet bearded dragon named Gandalf.
The family had seven pets, including the lizard. The cats and dogs reportedly escaped the fire, Peraud said, but he wasn’t sure about the ferrets.
Residents of the other unit in the house were all accounted for, firefighters said. The Red Cross was assisting the seven adults and one child who lived in the house.
The main body of fire was extinguished at about 5 p.m., Williams said. Fire crews from Station 2 handled the majority of the work, but crews from 10 stations responded to the blaze.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Williams said residential fires pick up this time of year as people go outside to smoke or barbecue in the warm weather.
Video by Nicole Hensley, The Spokesman-Review