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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Timely chef helps save Ferraro’s and neighborhood from brush fire

UPDATED: Wed., June 23, 2021

Firefighters saved Ferraro’s restaurant and nearby homes from a fire that quickly erupted Tuesday, with a chef at the restaurant being credited for his quick thinking. The owner, Jason Ferraro, is thankful to firefighters who save his building just in time.  (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)
Firefighters saved Ferraro’s restaurant and nearby homes from a fire that quickly erupted Tuesday, with a chef at the restaurant being credited for his quick thinking. The owner, Jason Ferraro, is thankful to firefighters who save his building just in time. (Colin Mulvany/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)
By Nico Portuondo The Spokesman-Review

A chef who happened to show up early to his shift at Ferraro’s Restaurant and Bar may have saved the entire neighborhood from a devastating brush fire that started in an empty lot next to the restaurant on Tuesday.

Jason Ferraro, the owner of Ferraro’s, said that his chef Phout Tanphantourath finished his first job quickly on Tuesday, and decided to show up to the restaurant a bit early to get ready. When he was walking outside the restaurant, he heard crackling.

“I saw a fire, and me and the guys (co-workers) started spraying it with hoses,” Tanphantourath said. “And then it just got bigger so fast.”

Tanphantourath ran inside and alerted the staff to call the fire department. Within minutes, firetrucks were there.

But before the fire was contained, eyewitnesses said the raging flames reached about 30 feet in height and that the fire spread toward homes in a blink of an eye due to significant winds in the area.

The fire ended up inflicting over $100,000 in property damages and one Spokane Fire Department firefighter received a minor traumatic injury, which was treated locally, according to SFD Chief Brian Schaeffer.

No residents or restaurant workers were injured, but Ferraro said that it could have been much worse if Tanphantourath hadn’t come in early.

“If he wasn’t here and the staff weren’t able to call 911 as soon as they did, the building would be gone,” Ferraro said. “Customers and cooks were in the restaurant and had no idea there was a fire.”

Residents whose homes are located on a ridge overlooking Ferraro’s were also scrambling to evacuate their families and put out the raging flames with little equipment before it reached their property.

Keith Pryor, a resident, went down the ridge to try to put out the massive flames with a small garden hose, but was mere seconds away from being engulfed after a gust of wind blew the fire towards him, according to eyewitnesses. Onlookers and first responders were able to alert him before the flames reached him.

Kelly Cline, a neighbor of Pryor, thinks his home might have to be rebuilt after the back of the house and garage were extensively damaged by the fire. Despite the damage, he was thankful for the firefighters and especially Washington State Police Trooper John Axtman, who was able to respond quickly after being in the area for training.

Axtman evacuated Cline’s mother, who is confined to a wheelchair, from the home and kicked open a locked gate to roll Cline’s mother away from the fire before it reached the back of the home, said WSP Trooper Jeff Sevigney.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated by SFD/Spokane Police Department Fire Investigation Task Force. It started in a brush-covered vacant lot next to Ferraro’s.

SPD estimates that they saved over $5,000,000 in property damage by containing the fire quickly, according to a press release.

After his close call with the flames, Pryor learned how important it is for his family to be ready at any time for violent fires in Spokane.

“We’re trying to learn from this,” Pryor said. “What are the things that we should have if anything like this happens again?”

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