The Spokane Fire Department worked for several hours to knock down a commercial building blaze near Riverside Avenue and Helena Street.
The building, home to Tormino’s Sash and Glass, was occupied when the fire began but was not open for business, said John Tormino Jr., the current owner. The younger Tormino had taken over the business from his father, John Tormino, who died in May.
Tormino said he and another person were inside when they heard a loud explosion coming from the bathroom area.
“I was down here doing some paperwork and I heard an explosion, had no idea where it came from – it kind of sounded like a sonic boom,” Tormino said.
“We came outside and saw flames coming from the sky lights in the office,” he added.
The fire was reported just before noon Wednesday. Fourteen crews from the Spokane Fire Department responded, including over 40 firefighters.
Shortly after the fire started, piles of wooden furniture and window frames dotting the business became engulfed in flames, creating a large fuel source that helped push a plume of fire through the building’s roof. By noon, the mountain of fire extended as high as a nearby power pole.
Firefighters worked for the better part of an hour to control the blaze. Two cranes attacked the fire from the air while half a dozen firefighters sprayed plumes of water through the business’ broken windows. All the while, Tormino’s Lexus SUV sat parked in front of the building, his keys and a spare set trapped inside the burning building.
The flames were mostly knocked down by 1 p.m. By 2 p.m., crews were mostly packing up while some stayed and mopped up hot spots.
Tormino’s Sash and Glass, 102 N. Helena St., is a long-running business that sells windows and bargain-priced doors, opened by the older Tormino back in 1950. The Torminos own other buildings on the block, including another building just east of the store front that went up in flames. None of the other properties appeared to be damaged.
Tormino said that losing the building was a blow to his family, but that they were grateful that no lives were lost. The shop had been closed for the winter, he said.
Now, however, he’ll have to adjust, he said. Working at the store “is what I’ve always done. It’s what I hoped to do,” he said.
“This is the only place I’ve ever worked.”
KHQ reporter Joe McHale contributed to this story.
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