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Saturday, March 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Man narrowly escapes from basement of burning home

Firefighters rescued a man trapped in the basement of a burning home early Saturday afternoon.

No one was injured in the fire at 109 W. Heroy Ave., although at least two cats died.

“There was fire coming through the ceiling – I tried to make it upstairs but it was too smoky,” Daniel Nickerson said.

Nickerson lives with his two cousins and his aunt in the house built in 1948. A cab driver, he was sleeping “heavily” after getting off work when he woke to his cousin Mackenze Nickerson screaming at him that the house was on fire.

Mackenze Nickerson was next door with her mother, Sandra Nickerson, when she said she heard a loud noise. When she came out of her neighbor’s home she saw her house engulfed in flames.

“There were flames rolling out our living room windows,” she said.

Mackenze knew Daniel was still asleep in the basement. So she grabbed a metal rod from the backyard and broke in the small basement window leading to his room.

“The way the flames were rolling and the crackling, the floor could have given out at any minute,” she said.

Daniel Nickerson tried to escape through the window but it was too small, he said. A neighbor started to kick in the window moldings, but he still couldn’t get through. Nickerson said at that point he thought he might die.

Spokane Fire Department Assistant Chief Brian Schaeffer said firefighters received the call at 12:26 p.m., and when they arrived on scene there was “an extreme amount of fire.” Firefighters located Nickerson and proceeded to cut a hole through the floor. They lowered a ladder and Nickerson climbed out.

Schaeffer said the cause of the fire is unknown.

“It’s incredibly fortunate for him,” Schaeffer said. “It’s just one of those blessings you get on a Saturday.”

Mackenze Nickerson’s father died two years ago of lung disease, she said. The fire destroyed his ashes and all the pictures they had of him.

“Everything we had left of him is gone,” she said.

Sandra Nickerson added, “As far as I know I lost everything, pictures and stuff, of my husband.”

Sandra Nickerson said she owns the home, and it is insured.

Schaeffer said the window in the basement was up to code when the home was built.

Karen Boone lives in the neighborhood and said the small basement windows are a big concern, especially after Saturday’s fire.

“For the neighborhood council that is something we will need to look at and address,” she said.

While Sandra Nickerson is devastated by the loss of her home, her cats and her husband’s mementos, she said she’s grateful that her nephew escaped.

“If it wasn’t for the firefighters, my nephew wouldn’t have made it,” she said.

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