The number of brush fire calls to which the Spokane Valley Fire Department crews responded was up in the two weeks from May 24 to June 6. In response to recent hot weather, which dried out grass, brush and trees, the department and other departments in Spokane County have enacted a burn ban.
Local fire marshals typically put a burn ban in force each summer. Spokane Valley Fire Marshal Greg Rogers said they examined the recent hot weather and the low amount of rainfall in the area so far this spring before reaching the decision.
“We feel it is prudent to initiate burn restrictions for Spokane County until further notice,” he said.
Under the burn ban, backyard recreational fires are no longer allowed. Burning yard debris or trash continues to be illegal, as it is year-round.
However, people can continue to use manufactured portable outdoor devices such as patio warmers, chimineas and barbecues. Some campgrounds may continue to allow campfires, so campers should check whether fires are allowed or not.
Other calls, May 24 to June 6
May 24: Crews responded to reports of a car wedged underneath a semitruck on westbound Interstate 90 between Pines and Evergreen roads at 3:27 p.m. The driver of the car was able to get out of the car without being extricated. He was taken to a local hospital with minor injuries. A shirt was reported on fire in the 3000 block of North Marguerite Road at 6:38 p.m. The crew found a smoldering shirt on fire in the street with no one around.
May 26: A fire alarm sounded at a day care in the 2500 block of North Pines at 5:05 p.m. Staff reported a child had pulled a fire alarm pull station, and the staff was locked out of the business. The owner arrived to let the staff back in.
May 27: An apartment building fire was reported in the area of 11900 block of East Mansfield Avenue at 7:44 p.m. Crews found fire on a third-floor deck was extending into the eaves of the building. The fire, which was started by hot ash embers from a discarded cigarette that ignited the decking, was quickly put out. An illegal fire was reported in the 15300 block of East Broadway Avenue at 8:26 p.m. The homeowner was burning trash and was told to put out the fire.
May 28: A fire was reported at Kaiser Trentwood at 3:43 a.m. Arriving crews saw a small fire on the roof and sparks coming from the smokestacks. The fire on the roof was put out. A car crash was reported to be blocking southbound Sullivan Road at Mission Avenue at 12:26 p.m. Two people had to be extricated from their vehicle and were taken to a local hospital. A fire in a document shredding truck was reported in the 3800 block of North Sullivan at 12:32 p.m. The driver of the truck had used his fire extinguisher on the fire, and crews found temperatures as high at 190 degrees inside the truck. The interior of the truck was doused with water to ensure that the fire was out. A brush fire was reported in the 16000 block of East Sprague Avenue at 7:02 p.m. A small grass fire was found in a field next to a car. The car had burn patterns around the gas tank fill area, and a small piece of fabric was found in the opening to the gas tank.
May 29: Multiple 911 callers reported smoke coming from a mobile home in the 9700 block of East Sixth Avenue at 4:43 p.m. When crews arrived, they found the resident cooking on a barbecue. The mobile home was not on fire. A brush fire was reported at the old Elks Lodge property on Robie Road at 7:47 p.m. There was a 15-by-15-foot fire in the grass near a homeless encampment. The fire was quickly put out.
May 31: A fire was reported in the area of Baneberry Lane at 8:26 p.m. A campfire was found on the bank of the Spokane River where people were roasting hot dogs and making s’mores. They were told to put the fire out.
June 1: A car reportedly hit a pedestrian in the Liberty Lake Yoke’s parking lot at 3:20 p.m. Another vehicle-versus-pedestrian incident was reported in the 200 block of North Pines Road at 3:51 p.m.
June 2: A water flow alarm was reported at a business in the 400 block of North Thierman Road at 12:30 a.m. The building could not be accessed, and the emergency contact information was outdated. Crews were called back to the same building for the same problem at 3:32 a.m. There was no sign of fire either time, and crews left the scene. A vehicle fire was reported in the 11900 block of East Mansfield at 4:38 a.m. The owner of an older pickup said he started the truck to warm it, then went inside. When he came back out, the truck’s engine compartment was on fire. An illegal fire was reported at a church in the 19900 block of East Wellesley Avenue at 9:46 a.m. Crews found a fire pit with the remains of a burnt wooden pallet. Some of the surrounding vegetation had burned. A semitruck with a fire in the wheel well was reported on the eastbound I-90 offramp at Broadway at 2 p.m. The crew found that an Avista truck had stopped and helped pry off the tire to use a fire extinguisher on the smoking tire and brakes. The driver of the semitruck said he pulled over after he was alerted by other drivers over his CB radio his tire was smoking. A seven-vehicle crash was reported on eastbound I-90 near Sullivan at 3:12 p.m. No serious injuries were reported.
June 4: A two-alarm apartment fire was reported in the 15400 block of East Fourth Avenue at 6:47 p.m. The first crew to arrive saw a large column of smoke and a fire in a second-floor apartment. Initial reports said people were trapped inside on the second floor, but a search did not turn up anyone. Two apartments, one on the second floor and the other on the third floor, were heavily damaged by fire. Five other units had smoke and/or water damage. The Red Cross responded to assist 17 people displaced by the fire. It was determined a propane barbecue that was placed too close to combustible material on a second-floor balcony had started the fire.
June 5: A fire was reported in the 12300 block of East Mansfield at 6:40 a.m. Crews found a 5-foot-by-10-foot pile of garbage on fire at a known transient camp. The fire was put out.
June 6: An illegal fire was reported in the 7400 block of East Third Avenue at 6:30 p.m. The resident was burning trash in a fire pit. He was informed of the current burn ban and agreed to put the fire out. An electrical fire was reported in the 4700 block of East First Avenue at 8:12 p.m. A man living in a shed reported his extension cord had melted and started to catch fire before he sprayed water on it.
By the numbers: Firefighters responded to 898 calls in the two weeks from May 24 to June 6, including 748 calls for emergency medical services. Additional calls included 43 car crashes, a fire alarm set off by baby powder, a man who called 911 because the batteries in his hearing aids were dead, a reported natural gas leak that turned out to be a skunk, several children accidentally locked inside vehicles, a tent that blew into a power line and got stuck and a baby duck that was rescued from a storm drain.
Nina Culver can be reached at email@example.com
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