Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 47° Partly Cloudy
News >  Crime/Public Safety

Firefighters quickly extinguish fire at apartment building where neighbor reported mental health crisis

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 24, 2021

A resident of a downtown apartment building, at 102 East Second Ave, set his kitchen on fire late Friday afternoon. The blaze was quickly extinguished by local firefighters.   (Emma Epperly / The Spokesman-Review)
A resident of a downtown apartment building, at 102 East Second Ave, set his kitchen on fire late Friday afternoon. The blaze was quickly extinguished by local firefighters.  (Emma Epperly / The Spokesman-Review)

Firefighters on Friday quickly extinguished a kitchen fire at a downtown Spokane apartment building, where one resident said her neighbor has been experiencing a mental health crisis all week and she tried to get him help.

Firefighters responded to the Patrician Apartments at 102 E. Second Ave. at about 1 p.m. after a resident reported her neighbor had set their apartment on fire.

Karen Heghaway has lived in the building for the past two years with her husband and dog. Heghaway said her upstairs neighbor, who police identified as Jaime Herrera, 45, has seemingly been having a mental health crisis all week.

A few days ago, Herrera broke out one of his windows and threw his vacuum onto the street below, Heghaway said. He yelled all night Thursday threatening to hurt himself and set his apartment on fire, she said.

She spent all night calling mental health services and the police, who said they couldn’t help, Heghaway said.

“I’m upset. I’m angry because I was up all night and I have reports that I’ve called and called and called,” Heghaway said. “And nobody would come out and do nothin’.”

Police said they responded Thursday night to a resident “causing a general raucous” but had no evidence of a crime after Herrera wouldn’t let them inside his apartment.

SPD returned to the apartment building at about 9 a.m. after residents called 911, Spokane Police Department Officer Stephen Anderson said in a release. Officers discovered multiple broken windows around the apartment building and located a witness who claimed to hear Herrera make threats to kill everyone in the building by burning it down. Officers were unable to verify that Herrera was inside and searched the area but did not locate him.

At about 1 p.m., Heghaway heard someone come down the stairs and exit the building.

Moments later, she said she smelled smoke.

Firefighters {%%note} {/%%note} were able to put out the blaze with a pump can – a large extinguisher filled with water and foam, said Battalion Chief Jim Schaeffer.

The fire did not spread to surrounding apartments, he added. No residents of the apartment building were hurt as a result of the fire, according to the release.

Herrera, a convicted felon, was located a few hours later and taken into custody for first-degree arson, harassment (threats to kill) and reckless endangerment.

S-R reporter Garrett Cabeza contributed to this article.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.