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

Heat tape caused South Hill U.S. Bank fire

Firefighters work to extinguish a fire that broke out at the U.S. Bank branch in the Lincoln Heights shopping center on 29th Avenue.  (COLIN MULVANEY/SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A fire that destroyed the U.S. Bank branch building in the Lincoln Heights shopping center on the South Hill started from heat tape installed in the gutter downspouts, according to the Spokane Fire Department.

Department spokesman Justin de Ruyter said investigators are unsure whether the electrical system malfunctioned or overheated from not being turned off.

All bank employees and customers were safe and accounted for after the April 29 fire, according to a U.S. Bank statement sent the week of the fire.

A firefighter was trapped after the roof collapsed and rescued by two other firefighters, de Ruyter said at the time. No firefighters were injured.

“While it’s too soon to determine the near and long-term impact to operations at this location, we’ll continue to provide you with full-service at our other branch locations in Spokane, including the Manito branch which is less than two miles away at 621 E. 30th Ave,” according to a U.S. Bank letter to customers.

The letter said the bank is unable to access safe deposit boxes at the burned location.

“Please rest assured that your box remains secure inside our vault with 24/7 security coverage on-site,” U.S. Bank wrote. “We continue to work closely with local authorities and building inspectors to determine when it’s safe to enter the building. We’ll update you on our plans for giving clients access to the boxes as soon as possible.”

Jake Holtrop, U.S. Bank communications manager, said he understands customers’ frustrations and an update will be provided soon.