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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane Valley Fire roundup: Watchful neighbors help save house fire ignited by lightning

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Thunderstorms and lightning strikes rolled through Spokane Valley last week, and alert neighbors helped save a home that was hit by lightning.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department was called to a home in the 24000 block of East Sinto Lane in Liberty Lake at 1 p.m. Aug. 5. A neighbor said the home had been hit by lightning, and there was a fire. The neighbor also alerted the homeowner to the problem.

When crews arrived, they found three neighbors putting water on the house with their garden hoses, said department spokeswoman Julie Happy. The crew was able to put out the fire quickly and limit damage to the home.

Other calls Aug. 2-8

Aug. 2: A natural gas leak was reported at a construction site in the area of Grand Vista Estates near Liberty Lake off Greenridge Road at 9:31 a.m. The leak was under a bulldozer on a timbered hillside. Avista responded to turn off the gas and repair the broken line. A car and motorcycle collided in the 2200 block of North Girard Road at 7:51 p.m. Both westbound lanes were blocked for a time.

Aug. 3: A fire alarm summoned firefighters and evacuated guests at a hotel in the 16100 block of East Indiana Avenue at 2:52 a.m. The alarm was malfunctioning and there was no fire. A two-vehicle crash was reported in the 1300 block of South Mica Park Drive at 11:13 a.m. One person had to be extricated from a vehicle. A cargo trailer fire was reported in the 500 block of North Willow Road at 4:51 p.m. The trailer was parked less than 2 feet from the house, and the owner said he had been running a generator on the tongue of the trailer and the generator caught fire. His efforts to put out the fire with several fire extinguishers were unsuccessful. Firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to the home but the trailer was heavily damaged. A brush fire was reported in the 14500 block of East 32st Avenue at 4:57 p.m. Construction workers said they were grinding bolts off a foundation when the sparks started a small fire that they put out with a fire extinguisher. The workers were advised to have water on hand when they grind. A small fire was reported at a school in the 6900 block of East Fourth Avenue at 9:35 p.m. Several children were seen running away from a fire, which was burning wood chips inside an empty metal can. Candy was left in the area.

Aug. 4: A person was reportedly stuck in an elevator in a hotel in the area of Mullan Road and Knox Avenue at 6:52 p.m. Crews were able to get the broken elevator open and there was no one inside. A repair technician was called.

Aug. 5: A small brush fire was reported on the side of Interstate 90 near the Liberty Lake exit at 8:47 a.m. The fire was about 50 feet by 150 feet before it was put out. A three-car crash was reported at Highway 27 and 24th Avenue at 2:20 p.m. One car was on its side and one car was on its top. One person was briefly trapped but was able to get out of the vehicle.

Aug. 7: A brush fire was reported in the Saltese Uplands Conservation Area near East 11th Avenue at 12:39 a.m. The fire was moving uphill when firefighters arrived. The fire was put out with the assistance of crews from Spokane County Fire District 8 and the Department of Natural Resources. Fireworks were identified as the cause of the fire and a blue SUV was seen leaving the area. A car fire was reported in the 13200 block of East Indiana Avenue at 4:56 a.m. The car had hit a railroad crossing arm, and the engine compartment was on fire. No occupants were found in the area. The fire was put out. A brush fire was reported near Valley Hospital at 8:40 a.m. A security guard reported a transformer blew and started a small grass fire. A dead squirrel was found on the ground where the fire started. The fire was put out. An excavator hit a gas line in the area of East Third Avenue and South Bradley Road at 1:48 p.m. Avista was called to shut off the gas and repair the gas line. A house fire was reported in the area of North Malvern Road and East Joseph Avenue at 2:06 p.m. The homeowner said he plugged two refrigerators into the same power strip in the garage and the strip melted and caught fire. Damage was minimal. A two-alarm brush fire was reported at 3:56 p.m. in the 26800 block 0f East Sprague Avenue. The fire turned out to be 200 feet inside Idaho and Kootenai Fire and the Idaho Department of Lands were called to assist. The fire was put out and hand lines were dug around the perimeter. An illegal fire was reported in the 7100 block of East Seventh Avenue at 4:26 p.m. The homeowner was burning yard waste in the backyard, which is illegal even when a burn ban is not in place. The resident agreed to put the fire out.

Aug. 8: A vehicle fire was reported in the 18200 block of East 12th Avenue at 7:37 a.m. Several items in the back of a pickup truck were burning, and the homeowner was using his garden hose to try to put out the fire. The truck bed was wet down and everything removed to make sure the fire was out. The homeowner said he’d had rags, paint, fertilizer and acetone in the back of his truck, which caught fire when the sun came up. A brush fire was reported in the area of East Eighth Avenue and South Progress Road. The fire was about one-fourth of an acre in an empty field, but approaching nearby homes and barns. Several residents were attempting to use garden hoses to fight the fire. A shed was burned. A power pole fire was reported on Stanley Street north of Broadway Avenue at 3:09 p.m. The pole was hit by lightning and was in danger of falling over. Wires fell from three power poles. Another power pole fire was reported in the 3800 block of North Sullivan Road at 7:14 p.m. The pole was burning between three transformers and the power lines on the pole, and water could not be used. The fire was put out after Avista cut power to the pole.

By the numbers: Crews responded to 485 calls the week of Aug. 2-8, including 398 calls for emergency medical services. Additional responses included 30 fires, 16 car crashes, a report of an electrical burning smell that turned out to be a skunk, an elderly woman who locked herself out of her car and several power pole fires during Sunday’s thunderstorm.


Correspondent Nina Culver can be reached at