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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Fire roundup: Locked doors and hydrant tampering challenge fire crews

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews are used to responding to fires and medical calls, but every so often the strange and unusual calls make an appearance.

Someone called to report a man tampering with a fire hydrant in front of Northwest Fence at 14909 E. Sprague Ave. the evening of Nov. 24. A crew arrived to find a man removing the tall pole attached to the hydrant that is meant to mark its location in deep snow, said department spokeswoman Melanie Rose.

The man told firefighters that he was removing the pole and taking it to Station 1 “because the mayor told him to,” Rose said. The man also had a cylindrical metal tube that he said was like a mortar tube and “it was illegal and punishable by death to have.”

Firefighters talked to the man until deputies arrived, Rose said.

Another unusual call involved a man locked inside a bathroom inside a business in the 15600 block of East Sprague on Nov. 16. Crews were making every effort not to damage the door or the door frame, but they and a locksmith were unable to get the door open, Rose said.

They finally got out a circular saw and cut the door handle off, but even that didn’t work, Rose said. They were forced to pry the door open, damaging it and the frame. The man wasn’t harmed during the experience.

Other calls from Nov. 14-27

Nov. 15: A bicyclist was hit by a slow moving car in the 2200 block of North Swing Lane in Liberty Lake. He received minor facial abrasians but refused treatment.

Nov. 16: A high school student arriving home to pick up a forgotten notebook discovered her bedroom on fire just after 8 a.m. She rescued her three dogs and firefighters rescued a hamster and a parakeet. The door of the bedroom was closed, which allowed firefighters to contain the fire to the bedroom. Investigators believe the fire began in the space between the girl’s mattress and the headboard, but they were unable to find an ignition source. Crews were called to a store in the 10600 block of East Sprague Avenue after shoppers reported coughing and burning eyes. A discharged pepper spray cannister was found in a trash can. An elderly woman was treated by medics.

Nov. 17: Crews assisted the Spokane Fire Department in pulling a man from the Spokane River near the T.J. Meenach Bridge and searching the river for another possible victim.

Nov. 19: A driver hit a power pole in the 16200 block of East Fourth Avenue around 7:50 a.m. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Nov. 20: A resident in the 11100 block of East Seventh Avenue reported billowing white smoke in a nearby backyard. The homeowner was illegally burning wood scraps and cardboard and voluntarily put the fire out.

Nov. 23: A vehicle fire was reported in the 5900 block of East Sprague. Firefighters had to cut the hood off the vehicle in order to put out the fire.

Nov. 26: A trash fire was discovered in the baseball dugout at Valley Christian School at 10400 E. 13th Ave. around 11 a.m. Two bystanders attempted to put the fire out by stomping on it.

By the numbers: Crews responded to 564 calls in the two weeks from Nov. 14 to 27, including 471 calls for emergency medical services. Other responses included 37 car crashes, a chimney fire that turned out to be steam from a furnace and a 2-year-old child locked inside a car.

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