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

Spokane Valley deputy runs into flames to save residents of home on fire

Joseph Cross woke up around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday to the piercing sound of his smoke alarm. When he walked out of his bedroom, his living room was full of smoke and his porch was in flames.

At about the same time, Deputy T. Ball was driving on I-90 when he noticed the fire from the porch, according to a Spokane Valley Sheriff’s Office news release.

When Ball drove into the neighborhood of mobile homes, he heard the voices of Cross and Cross’ mother, who both lived in the home.

He activated his body camera, turned on his flashlight and stepped over flames to search through the smoke for people inside.

He found the Crosses inside – and their pets – and helped everyone get outside, according to the release. Body camera footage can be found on the Spokane sheriff’s YouTube and Facebook.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department arrived at the scene shortly after and put the fire out, according to the news release.

Police officers and deputies do not have set guidelines when handling situations like helping people out of a fire, but they use their best judgment to determine what is safest, said Mark Gregory, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.

Gregory said Ball made the decision to help the two victims in the home while keeping himself safe, but it is not common for an officer to enter a burning building to help residents escape.

“There is nothing that says he had to go inside. He looked at it and made the correct decision,” Gregory said.

“He saw the two people needed out and they weren’t getting out, so he put himself in jeopardy to get them out.”

When the fire department shows up to a fire, their first priority is to make sure everyone is safely out of the home and away from the fire before putting out the flames, said Patrick Erickson, Spokane Valley Fire Department media manager.

Because Ball had already helped the victims outside of their home, the fire department was able to get the fire out in less than 10 minutes, Erickson said.

Cross said neither he nor his mom were injured, and their two dogs, two cats and two lizards were saved as well.

Even though the fire department was able to put the flames out quickly, the home was still severely damaged. The home next door also had damage, according to the press release.

“(This) isn’t even worth fixing,” Cross said.

His mom is now staying at her sister’s house, but Cross said he is sleeping in a tent next to the home.

“I’m freaking out inside,” he said.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined, Erickson said.