Two house were destroyed and two dogs were killed in a Thursday night fire in Vinegar Flats.
The blaze began when a single fire truck responded to a report of an illegal burn on the 2000 block of South Inland Empire Way – a seemingly routine summer call usually indicating a backyard fire.
But when firefighters arrived, they found two trailers engulfed in flames . Between them, a tall tree “like a 100-foot roman candle” burned, said Spokane Fire Department Incident Commander Mike Bacon.
As more calls came in reporting the massive fire and that a family was still inside in one of them, nine engines responded.
Neighbor Chelsea Borst said she could see black smoke high above the tree tops. All the neighbors came out at once, she said, multiple calling for help. She said two boys under the age of 10 came running away from one of the homes.
The first fire engine attempting to put the fire out ran out of water, and with no hydrant over nearby, firemen had to “hand lay” a hose 600 feet, Bacon said. Despite that complication, the fire was mostly out in minutes.
The grandmother and kids escaped the house just in time and only moments before firemen arrived, Bacon said. By the time crews got to the scene, the blaze was large enough that “you don’t survive that,” Bacon said.
Smoke detectors saved their lives, said Deputy Chief Jay Atwood.
“Ladder Four, who responded, actually installed smoke detectors a couple weeks ago and it saved their lives,” Bacon said.
In the other trailer, firefighters found the remains of two dogs. A third dog remained missing. It wasn’t immediately clear if the family that narrowly escaped had any pet missing, Bacon said.
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