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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Space heater blamed for fire in older home

Fire extensively damaged an older home in northwest Spokane late Friday afternoon.

A driver reported flames coming through the roof at 4:30 p.m. When neighbors first saw the blaze, some ran to the house, at 1823 W. Fairview, and pounded on the doors to alert anyone who might be home, witnesses said.

No one was, and no one was injured in the blaze.

“It’s very devastating, especially to come home to something like that,” said neighbor Tana Leines, 23.

The male homeowner was grocery shopping and doing laundry when the fire broke out, said Battalion Chief Steve Sabo of the Spokane Fire Department. The man had left a propane space heater on in his bedroom and was probably only gone 15 or 20 minutes before the rubber line between the propane and the heating unit either broke or melted, releasing the gas, Sabo said.

Sabo advised against leaving any kind of space heater unattended.

The home sits next to a hillside and on the corner of an alley and a dead end street. That made it difficult for fire engines to access the fire immediately, Sabo said. Firefighters had to use chain saws to cut through the roof.

Sabo said the owner had done a lot of projects to remodel the home, which one neighbor said was probably built in the 1930s. Most of the handiwork, along with the homeowner’s personal items, were destroyed.

“Just about everything in the house had some type of damage, either burn damage, heat damage or smoke damage,” he said. “…A TV totally melted down.”

The home was insured, Sabo said.

Neighbor Terri Smith, 46, said she left a voice message for the homeowner while watching blaze.

“I said, ‘Kevin, your house is on fire. Come home,’.” she said.

Sabo said the homeowner hadn’t received word of the blaze until he pulled in two or three hours after he’d left for the store.

The homeowner’s last name wasn’t released. Sabo said the American Red Cross is providing accommodations for him through the weekend.

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