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Spokane Valley fire roundup: Man suffers burns when cigarette ignites gasoline vapor fumes from containers in car trunk

September 13, 2018

The Spokane Valley Fire Department from Aug. 27 to Sept. 9 responded to several calls regarding fires ignited by cigarettes, including one incident occurring near MultiCare Valley Hospital.

Firefighters responded about 10 a.m. Aug. 29 to a report of a vehicle fully engulfed in flames in the middle of Houk Road, directly in front of the hospital.

The driver of the vehicle had filled two plastic fuel cans at a gas station and placed them in the trunk of the vehicle before driving to a doctor’s appointment. The fuel cans were not properly stored with paper towels stuck into the ends of uncapped fuel spouts.

When the man returned to the vehicle after his appointment, he started up the car and lit a cigarette, which ignited fuel vapors.

The driver suffered burns on more than 30 percent of his body and was transported into the hospital.

On Aug. 30, firefighters were called to a fire on the 1800 block of North Hutchinson Road about 3:45 p.m. A potted plant attached to a balcony railing at the Linger Longer Lodge Apartments was ignited by a cigarette. The fire was extinguished by the property manager and firefighters ensured it was completely out. The fire was contained to the planter.

Spokane Valley Fire Department spokeswoman Melanie Rose said plant soil should not be used for extinguishing cigarettes.

“Potting soil is not dirt,” she said. “It’s highly flammable.”

Other calls from Aug. 27-Sept. 9

Aug. 28: Crews responded to a report of a person trapped in a hotel elevator about 4 a.m. on the 9200 block of East Mission Avenue. The 911 emergency was called when a desk clerk was unable to contact hotel maintenance. Fire crews were unable to open the elevator door and dispatched their Valley rescue aid, who opened the door with special equipment and freed the individual.

Aug 29: Fire crews responded to a two-car collision between a truck and a Honda about 3:55 p.m. near the 9200 block of East Valleyway Avenue. Crews extricated an 80-year-old woman from her vehicle. She was transported to the hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. The other driver was unharmed.

Aug 30: Crews responded to a fire call about 6 a.m. at the 2700 block of North Maple Avenue. When crews arrived at a parking lot to next to BuilDaBong Studios, they found a transient looking through discarded cigarette butts at the establishment. Crews questioned the man about a report of someone attempting to light a fire in the area. The man said he was just looking for some unsmoked cigarettes. The Spokane County Sheriff’s Department arrived on the scene and conducted a background check on the man, which came back clean. Crews were unable to locate a fire in the area.

Sept 3: Firefighters responded to a report of a potential natural gas leak about 9 a.m. on the 4800 block of North Keller Road. A mini-excavator hit a residential gas line. Crews blocked off the road and determined there was a trace of natural gas, but there wasn’t a leak. Crews waited until Avista Utilities arrived on scene.

Sept 4: Crews responded to a motorcycle crash about 4:50 p.m. on the 1700 block of North Evergreen Road. A 38-year-old man was riding a motorcycle when an SUV pulled out in front of him, causing him to crash into the vehicle. The man was wearing a helmet and was transported to a hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. The SUV driver was unharmed.

Sept 8: Crews responded to a fire started by teenagers about 9:50 p.m. in the Dishman Hills area. A caller said he smelled smoke and reported a group of teens had been camping on-and-off in the area for several weeks. The caller led firefighters to the campsite, where they found three teenagers sleeping in a tent next to a 2 feet by 2 feet fire pit. Firefighters advised them a burn ban is in effect and made sure the fire was extinguished.

Sept. 9: Crews responded to a brush fire about 6:30 p.m. near the 1000 block of South Windsong Lane. They arrived to find a half-acre, slow-moving fire in the grass. Two neighbors were digging a line at the head of the fire below a house and several bystanders had attempted to extinguish the fire with garden hoses. Crews were able to contain the fire.

By the numbers: During the two weeks ending Sunday, the Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to 591 calls, including 44 fire calls, 19 alarm system responses, 483 emergency medical service calls, two extrication calls, one water rescue, eight hazardous materials calls, 29 motor-vehicle collisions and five service calls.

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