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‘Middle-finger salute’ preceded fire

A man accused of trying to light his apartment complex on fire gave a surveillance camera the middle-finger salute before doing so, fire officials allege.

Ian W. Godfrey, 29, said he was angry with a flier being distributed at the HiFumi En Apartments, 926 E. 8th Ave., when he lit one on fire and walked through the building, according to the Spokane Fire Department.

The smoke triggered the apartment's overhead sprinklers. Fire officials suspected arson, and the apartment manager recognized Godfrey from the surveillance video.

Godfrey was arrested that day for attempted first-degree arson. He was released on his own recognizance after appearing in Superior Court Wednesday.

Hunt for arsonist on after apartment fire

Investigators continue to search for an arsonist responsible for leaving more than two dozen low-income people homeless last weekend.

Firefighters were called to the HiFumi En Apartments, 926 E. Eighth Ave., early Saturday morning. The blaze did extensive damage: Officials said it could take six weeks to reopen the upstairs of the building and even longer for the bottom floor. 

Steve Cervantes, executive director of Housing Solutions, said 41 people lived in the building, but 15 found temporary housing with friends or family. On Friday, social service agencies moved the last 22 low-income, elderly or disabled residents from a Post Falls motel where they had been staying since fire broke out.

Temporary accommodation was found at numerous area hotels, group homes and nursing centers, according to a SNAP spokesman.

“I don’t think SNAP has ever been involved in a situation where we had to find residence for so may people in such a short time,” Ron Hardin said.

Meanwhile, fire investigators hope to make an arrest shortly, said Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer.

Cervantes said two other recent fires at the HiFumi En building also were suspected arsons. About six months ago, someone threw a cigarette in a trash can.

That incident caused little damage, but a second fire about three months ago was more serious. That time, someone set fire to a mattress left in a hallway. Cervantes said quick action by a resident prevented serious damage.

Past coverage:

May 13: Residents adrift after fire

May 14: Fire evacuees face a dilemma