Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Millwood house fire that killed two children caused by cigarette

Spokane Valley Fire Department Chief Frank Soto Jr., right, speaks with reporters Tuesday outside the department’s headquarters about a Millwood house fire that killed two children.  (Garrett Cabeza / The Spokesman-Review)

A fire that killed two boys early Monday morning in Millwood was caused by an improperly discarded cigarette outside the home, according to the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

The fire started near the front porch of the single-story home, 9815 E. Dalton Ave., Spokane Valley Fire investigator Dustin Thurman said at a Tuesday news conference outside the department’s headquarters.

He said the cigarette landed in combustible materials between the house and what was believed to be an “improper” ash tray. The fire then spread inside the home.

Margie Ford, the grandmother of the two children, identified them as 7-year-old Maverick Ford and 9-year-old Gabriel Davis. Two family dogs also died in the blaze.

A GoFundMe set up for the family raised $12,655 as of Tuesday night.

Spokane Valley Fire Chief Frank Soto Jr. thanked first responders and asked residents to pray for the families involved, first responders and the community.

“We’re all hurting,” Soto Jr. said. “It’s never easy to go on a fire fatality and it’s incomprehensible when you have to go to a child that has died, and in this case it was multiple deaths.”

Firefighters were dispatched to the fire at about 2:50 a.m., Soto said. The first unit on scene, a fire engine, found the house fully engulfed in flames and was quickly advised two children were inside.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said firefighters entered the burning home and retrieved two children and two dogs – all of whom were unresponsive – and started life-saving efforts. The children and the dogs died at the scene.

Soto Jr. said every effort was made to save the two boys.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to accomplish that,” he said.

Brett Anderson, Spokane Valley Fire deputy fire marshal, said four people have died in three fires over the last two years.

Spokane Valley Fire spokesman Patrick Erickson said the children’s father and a firefighter were injured and taken to a hospital.

The father, Eugene “Gene” Ford, was treated and released and returned to the house later in the morning in scrubs and a sweatshirt with soot covering his skin. The firefighter also was treated and released, Erickson said.

Spokane Valley Fire said in a news release that when first responders arrived, they found “one person attempting to fight the fire with a garden hose.”

Neighbor Cindy Sinatra has said Gene Ford ran to her home, banging on her door. She called 911.

Sinatra said Gene Ford ran around the home frantically and tried to break into the bedroom of the two children through a window to get them out.

Anderson offered fire safety tips Tuesday.

He said everyone should evacuate a burning home and then call 911.

“Do not go back in for anyone or anything in any circumstance,” Anderson said.

He said firefighters are called to multiple cigarette-caused fires every year, and that cigarette disposal practices are essential to keep homes and people safe.

Anderson said residents should use an ash tray or a tin can with water in it. The ash tray or can should be away from combustibles and structures.

Families should also have a fire escape plan and make sure smoke detectors are working, he said.

“We’re coming out of wildland season, but I don’t know that many folks realize that we’re coming into structural fire season,” Anderson said.