The number of fires in the area served by the Spokane Valley Fire Department are on the rise. Though the fires have all been small so far, the potential for a fire with major impact is also rising as grasses, trees and bushes get drier.
The first brush fire during the week of May 17-23 was called in at 6:19 p.m. May 17 in the area of Fifth Avenue and Granite Drive. Crews could see smoke coming from the top of the hill as they approached. Crews used water and hand tools to put out the fire, which was estimated at 50 by 50 feet in size.
The next fire was located in a small grassy area between Interstate 90 and the Pines westbound on-ramp at 2:58 p.m. on May 18. The fire was moving relatively slowly in grass, but there were wind gusts. The fire was spreading from west to east. A disabled car with a blown tire was parked on the side of the freeway and might have sparked the fire.
Another fire was reported in the trees just south of the I-90 eastbound Sullivan off-ramp at 8:48 p.m. on May 23. The fire was about 15 by 15 feet and appeared to have begun as a transient campfire. The fire was doused.
Other calls May 17-23
May 17: A fire alarm activated at Adams Elementary on Eighth Avenue at 10:48 a.m. It was determined that a kindergartener had pulled the alarm. An illegal fire was reported in the 700 block of South Carnahan at 2:25 p.m. Crews had responded to the same address the day before and found the resident burning yard debris. A neighbor called to report that the fire was not out. The crew found a few hot spots in the pile of debris and soaked the pile. The resident was not home. An illegal fire was reported in the 800 block of South Calvin at 2:50 p.m. The homeowner was burning yard debris and agreed to put the fire out when he was told that burning yard debris was illegal.
May 18: A fire was reported in the 3800 block of South Mercy Drive at 2:23 p.m. When crews arrived they found a pile of burnt logs stacked against a plastic fence, which also burned. Neighbors noticed the fire and used a garden hose to put it out before crews arrived. A fire alarm was pulled in an apartment complex in the 22800 block of East Country Vista Drive at 6:24 p.m. It was determined that it was pulled by a 4-year-old, who said he didn’t know what it did, so he pulled it. A fire was reported in the 3000 block of North Woodruff Road at 9:12 p.m. A transient was camping there and had lit a small fire. He was told it was illegal and he couldn’t have a fire.
May 19: A fire was reported in the 1800 block of North Hutchinson Road at 4:48 a.m. When the crew arrived, they found the same transient that had lit a fire the night before on Woodruff Road. The crew gave him a blanket. Another call was received at the same location at 6:20 a.m., but the fire was out when the crew arrived.
May 20: A resident in the 15900 block of East Wellesley Avenue reported a hazardous materials incident at 9:11 a.m. When the crew arrived, she showed them several dead spots in the grass in her back yard. She wanted the crew to test the soil so she could determine what killed her lawn. She was advised that soil testing is a service that the fire department does not provide.
May 21: Members of the Rescue Task Force were called at 4:09 a.m. to stand by while the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team served an arrest warrant. No one was injured. A second Rescue Task Force call came in at 7:19 a.m. Again, no one was injured.
May 22: A fire was reported near a business in the 13000 block of East Indiana Avenue at 7:34 p.m. Crews found several large boxes of compacted paper on fire. Witnesses reported seeing a man light the paper on fire. The fire was put out and the Sheriff’s Office made an arrest in connection with the fire. A woman arrived at Station 7 at 10:33 a.m. to get assistance getting a ring off her finger. Her finger had been injured and was swollen and the ring was stuck. The crew was able to remove the ring without cutting it. A tree fell on power lines in the 5800 block of North Campbell Road at 6:14 p.m., causing arcing and sparking. Inland Power was called and they turned off the power line.
May 23: An illegal fire was reported in the 600 block of North Flora at 9:29 a.m. The crew found large piles of wood and debris that seemed to have come from a torn down building. One of the piles was burning and the person standing near the pile said his boss had told him to burn the pile. He agreed to put the fire out.
By the numbers: Crews responded to 401 calls the week of May 17-23, including 335 calls for emergency medical services. Other responses included 20 car crashes, multiple fire alarm activations due to burning food and one fire alarm that activated due to sawdust.