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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Valley Fire roundup: Crews discover smoke without fire, cats caught in predicaments

The Spokane Valley Fire Department Administration Building shown at 2021 N. Wilbur Road .  (The  Spokesman-Review)
The Spokane Valley Fire Department Administration Building shown at 2021 N. Wilbur Road . (The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Spokane Valley Fire Department crews respond to fires all the time, but sometimes where there’s smoke, there isn’t fire.

Someone called in a plume of black smoke coming from the roof of the Gus Johnson Ford building near Vista Road and Sprague Avenue at 4:18 p.m. on Nov. 3. But when crews arrived, an off-duty firefighter on scene notified them that the smoke was coming from an oil burner and there was no fire, department spokeswoman Julie Happy said. All crews were canceled.

Crews are also often called on to help people who are injured or need medical assistance, but sometimes they also help some of our furry friends. The department received two such calls this week, but in one case the cat stubbornly resisted rescue.

The first call came in from a woman at the 12400 block of East Eighth Avenue at 1:46 p.m. on Nov. 4 to report that her cat had fallen behind the water heater and was stuck. Firefighters were able to move the water heater and free the cat.

The second cat-related call came in at 6:18 p.m. on Nov. 6 in the 4600 block of East Seventh Avenue. The caller said there was a cat 30 feet up in a tree.

A crew responded and used a ladder to climb the tree, but the cat wasn’t interested in being rescued and went out on a limb where firefighters could not follow, Happy said. Firefighters had to leave the cat in the tree.

Other calls from Nov. 2-8

Nov. 2: A possible fire was reported in the 500 block of North Best Road at 11:35 a.m. The homeowner told firefighters he was burning cedar wood that was wrapped around his hot tub. He was advised to put the fire out. A large amount of smoke was reported in the 1500 block of North Locust at 1:51 p.m. The homeowner was burning yard debris, which is illegal. The fire was put out. Firefighters responded to a home in the 19000 block of East Boone Avenue to check carbon monoxide levels at 2:38 p.m. Elevated levels between 20 and 25 were detected throughout the home and Avista was called.

Nov. 3: Crews responded to a fire alarm at a hotel in the 2300 block of North Madson Road at 11:25 a.m. It was determined that someone had run a lawn mower inside the mechanical room, stirring up enough dust to trigger the alarm.

Nov. 5: A caller reported a smoldering fire in the 12700 block of East Mansfield Avenue at 12:57 p.m. The man said he had found and put out a campfire the day before, but the wind had caused it to smolder again. The fire was doused with 50 gallons of water. A vehicle fire was reported in the 17000 block of East Indiana Parkway at 8:16 p.m. When crews arrived, they found steam coming from the wheel wells, but not the engine. There was antifreeze leaking on the exhaust pipe, but no fire.

Nov. 6: A 10-gallon gasoline spill was reported in the Maverick parking lot on East Broadway Avenue at 8:40 a.m. The man said he had picked his truck up from work and went to the gas station to fill it up. He noticed gas pouring from the vehicle as he pumped. Bystanders helped spread absorbent and plugged the leaking gas tank. Firefighters spotted flames coming from a backyard in the 8000 block of East Valleyway at 8:03 p.m. The homeowner was burning trash, yard debris and construction materials, which are all illegal. Firefighters have responded to multiple similar fires at the address over the past two years. The issue was referred to the prevention unit for follow up.

Nov. 7: A crew responded to a lock out call in the 8300 block of East Liberty Avenue at 10:09 a.m. for three children and a dog accidentally locked inside a running vehicle. Firefighters unlocked the vehicle.

Nov. 8: A house fire was reported in the 1400 block of North Meadowwood Lane at 5:12 a.m. There was smoke coming from the eaves of the home when crews arrived. There was heavy smoke and fire inside the home before the fire was put out. One firefighter was evaluated by medics for possible heat exposure. The fire began out the home on the northeast corner, where a bin of used cleaning rags, some soaked in oil, was located. Spontaneous combustion could have ignited the fire.

By the numbers: Crews responded to 366 calls the week of Nov. 2-8, including 286 calls for emergency medical service. Other responses included 22 car crashes, a report of flames coming from an electrical outlet and several false fire alarms triggered by dust.

Nina Culver can be reached at

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