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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Park Tower’s 9th floor catches fire for second consecutive month in downtown Spokane

May 19, 2022 Updated Thu., May 19, 2022 at 8:51 p.m.

A firetruck ladder is raised toward the ninth floor of the Park Tower apartments Thursday on Spokane Falls Boulevard in downtown Spokane.  (Garrett Cabeza / The Spokesman-Review)
A firetruck ladder is raised toward the ninth floor of the Park Tower apartments Thursday on Spokane Falls Boulevard in downtown Spokane. (Garrett Cabeza / The Spokesman-Review)

For the second time in two months, Spokane firefighters extinguished a fire on the ninth floor of the Park Tower apartments in downtown Spokane.

Two people were treated in the lobby of the 20-story tower at 217 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. after Thursday morning’s blaze, Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said. He said one person was taken to the hospital with complications of smoke inhalation.

Schaeffer said firefighters were dispatched to an automatic alarm at the tower, located across from the Spokane Convention Center, around 9:20 a.m., then dispatchers received reports of smoke in the hallway on the ninth floor. He said firefighters discovered the blaze in a ninth-floor unit and the first arriving companies quickly extinguished it. A Spokane Fire Department news release said over 50 firefighters extinguished the blaze in 15 minutes.

The occupant from the unit on fire reported seeing fire beneath a desk, according to a Spokane Fire Department news release. A caregiver was coincidentally at her door for an appointment and helped her escape.

Heat and smoke damaged one unit, and caused slight damage to the floor the unit was on, the release said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Roger Weatherford lives on the second floor and evacuated.

“I leaned out over my balcony and I looked up and I could see smoke coming out of one of the floors,” Weatherford said. “I didn’t know which floor at that time.”

Spokane Fire Station 1 is two blocks away from the tower, so firefighters were on scene quickly and climbed up to the ninth floor carrying heavy hose , Schaeffer said.

“All of that work plus carrying all the equipment, they did that in less than 10 minutes,” Schaeffer said. “So it’s pretty outstanding.”

Firefighters climbed all 20 floors to control the fire, search for residents and control the building’s utilities, according to the release. Firefighters assisted several occupants.

The tower has 184 units for residents 62 and over or those who have disabilities. The building is subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“This is one of our most high-hazard occupancies, lots of vulnerable people,” Schaeffer said.

Schaeffer expressed concerns last month that the building doesn’t have sprinklers, leaving the tower and its residents vulnerable. He repeated those worries Thursday.

“It’s only alarm (protected), which has always been my concern,” he said.

Last month’s fire left one man with serious injuries.

Firefighters rescued the man by bringing him out of his window, then down to the ground in a ladder truck basket, Schaeffer said at the time. Schaeffer said Thursday the man has since been released from the hospital. That fire started in a ninth-floor apartment and brought more than 70 firefighters to the building.

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