Spokane Valley resident Angel Smith and her children had just returned home from an errand Tuesday afternoon when they were alerted a fire was raging in their recreational vehicle outside. The blaze quickly escalated to a two-alarm fire, destroying the RV and adjacent garage, and displacing the Smith family for the time being.
The Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to reports of a RV that caught fire at 1323 S. University Road around 2:45 p.m., said Patrick Erickson, media manager for the fire department. By the time firefighters arrived, the blaze had engulfed the recreational vehicle and extended to the garage the RV was parked next to.
Smith, her three children and their dog were sitting in their living room at the time of the fire, and evacuated the residence before firefighters arrived. Smith said a friend of hers was stopping by the house to say hello and noticed smoke coming from the RV out front, and began frantically honking his horn and knocking on the door to alert the family.
“We had just walked down to the store for a pop with all the heat and everything, and we were just sitting in the living room,” Smith said. “We tried to do what we could.”
Smith said they ran out of the house and grabbed watering hoses to try to extinguish the blaze themselves, but it quickly grew out of control. As the family evacuated to a nearby open field, Smith and her oldest son returned to the home to save their pit bull. Smith’s son jumped through the front window to rescue the dog.
“I went in to go grab the dog and inhaled a bunch of smoke,” Smith said. “So I ran to the back gate thinking ‘I got to get my dog,’ and then my son was able to grab her. He wasn’t leaving without her.”
The fire was upgraded to a two-alarm fire while firefighters were fighting the blaze in order to get more resources to the scene, and the blaze was extinguished within two hours. In addition to destroying the RV and the garage, the fire damaged the exterior of the house, other vehicles parked in the driveway and the exterior of a neighbor’s garage.
Erickson said Spokane Valley Fire Department, Spokane Fire District 8 and the Spokane Fire Department all responded, and cycled firefighters in and out as they worked to contain the blaze amidst some of the hottest weather Spokane has seen in 2022. Paramedics with American Medical Response also responded to help ensure firefighters were properly hydrated and taken care of.
“It is extremely hot, so that’s another thing that the firefighters are having to deal with,” Erickson said. “The fire itself, but also keeping themselves safe along with the folks here in the area.”
The cause of the fire has not been determined, but Erickson said the incident is under investigation. South University Road was closed from East Eighth Avenue to East 16th Avenue for several hours while firefighters responded.
Smith has rented the home since 2019, and lives there with her 16-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son. She said all of their belongings were in the destroyed camper, since that is where they have been staying while a plumbing issue in the home was being addressed.
“Everything was in there, all our clothes, everything,” Smith said.
While onlookers gathered across the street, Smith alerted friends and family nearby. She said her children went to a friend’s house to recuperate, and she stayed in the adjacent field with her sister, Alicia Smith, her nieces, her children’s grandmother and her friend, who had all rushed over to show support.
Smith is unemployed and said she is unsure what her next steps will be. Her sister said officials with the Spokane Valley Fire Department told her the American Red Cross would be in touch to help ensure the family has somewhere to stay and new clothing for the time being.
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