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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane Valley Fire roundup: Crews rescue worker buried waist-high after trench collapses

Spokane Valley Fire Department Administration Building is shown.  (The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Valley Fire Department Administration Building is shown. (The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Crews respond to a wide variety of calls, not just fires and medical issues. Firefighters with the Spokane Valley fire department, like other departments, regularly train for incidents that might occur only a handful of times a year. That includes training to rescue people from collapsed trenches.

The department was called to a trench collapsed with a trapped worker in the area of First Avenue and Dishman Mica Road at 1:57 p.m. on April 19. Workers were digging to install a new water main when a trench collapsed.

When crews arrived, they found an L shaped trench that was about 8 feet deep and 8 feet wide, said department spokeswoman Julie Happy. A man was buried up to his waist in dirt and rocks, and three of his coworkers were attempting to dig him out. There was heavy equipment running nearby.

The buried worker was in and out of consciousness and appeared ashen, Happy said. Crews were able to free the man from the trench, and he was taken to a local hospital.

Other calls, April 19-25

April 19: A fire alarm sounded at Katerra in the 19200 block of East Garland Avenue at 8:15 a.m. An employee told crews the alarm had been activated by dust. A deck fire was reported in the 1500 block of North Vista Road at 3:32 p.m. A neighbor spotted the smoke and called it in. Crews arrived to find the neighbor had been able to put the fire out with her garden hose.

April 20: A caller reported a man and two children were lighting a tree on fire in the 14500 block of East Broadway Avenue at 5:42 p.m. Firefighters found a man who said he was burning weeds in his yard. The fire was put out, and the homeowner was advised not to try to burn his weeds. An illegal fire was reported in the 100 block of North McCabe at 5:51 p.m. The homeowner told firefighters he was burning debris from a large tree that fell during a recent windstorm. He was told burning yard waste is illegal.

April 21: A 10-foot by 20-foot fire was discovered near an apartment complex in the 2700 block of North Bowdish Road at 5:54 p.m. Numerous witnesses said three children had started the fire. Crews put out the fire.

April 23: A brush fire was reported that turned out to be located at the end of South Idaho Road in Idaho at 12:06 p.m. The fire was a legal slash pile fire being monitored by the landowner.

April 24: A possible illegal fire was reported in the 14000 block of East Mullan Avenue at 3:23 p.m. Someone was burning yard debris and cardboard in a burn barrel. Burn barrels are illegal, as is burning yard debris. The resident was told to put the fire out.

April 25: An audible alarm was reported at Krispy Kreme at 12:32 a.m. Crews could find no sign of smoke, heat or fire. Two responsible parties were contacted about the alarm and refused to respond, so the crew was canceled. A natural gas leak was reported in the area of Eighth Avenue and Felts Street at 1:15 p.m. An equipment operator reported he had hit a 1-inch natural gas line and then covered it back up with dirt. Avista was called to repair the line.

By the numbers: Crews responded to 404 calls the week of April 19-25, including 336 calls for emergency medical services. Additional responses included 22 car crashes, a call about an empty kayak in the Spokane River that could not be located and a fire alarm triggered by burnt popcorn.


Nina Culver can be reached at

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