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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Fire burns top floor of apartments near GU

Fire burned the top floor of a three-story apartment building near Gonzaga University, sending thick clouds of smoke into the neighborhood Thursday afternoon as temperatures reached 100 degrees.

Jessica Schilling, who lives in one of the upper apartments on the third floor, said she didn’t know about the fire until someone banged on her door. She said she didn’t think, she just ran.

“I didn’t have time to grab anything,” she said. Her cat, spooked by the commotion, ran and hid.

“I left the door open,” Schilling said. “If she’s smart, she ran out.”

Schilling’s hands were trembling as she watched her apartment burn. “I’m just really sad, mostly,” she said. “Everything is gone. There just aren’t anywords.”

Schilling said she believes the fire started on a third-floor balcony. She saw a tall column of fire on a balcony as she ran out of the building, she said, and had seen smoke rise from a potted plant where someone had tried to extinguish a cigarette.

Mike Allen, who was riding his bike nearby, saw the smoke and hurried to the building. He got there about the same time as firefighters and saw them kicking in doors to check for residents.

“The whole top story was engulfed in flame,” he said. “It seemed like an awful lot of fire.”

Spokane Fire Chief Bobby Williams said the cause of the three-alarm blaze was under investigation but it appeared to have started on the upper level of the southeast corner. Everyone evacuated and no one was injured, Williams said.

The fire drew nearly every city firetruck and crews from Fire Districts 8, 9 and 10 helped fill the gaps, Williams said.

The Red Cross arrived to assist residents and offer shelter at Stevens Elementary School.

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