A large fire burst through the roof of two Spokane Valley apartments on Thursday, with two firefighters sustaining minor injuries in the response. Firefighters were able to control the fire, though, and save two pets along the way, according to Spokane Valley Deputy Fire Chief Marshal Brett Anderson.
The two Spokane Valley firefighters were sent to the hospital, but the rescued dog and cat were uninjured thanks to firefighters’ efforts. No civilians suffered injuries during the fire.
Fire crews responded to a fire call at the Willowbrook Apartments near Pines and Maxwell in Spokane Valley at 3:26 p.m., according to Anderson.
At the fire’s peak, witnesses said the flame broke through the roof and shot out of the apartment
“It was a real giant flame coming out of there,” said John Boldizsar, a resident of the apartment complex but not the building where the flame started.
Although no civilians were injured, two top floor apartments were severely damaged. The residents who were living in them are now displaced, according to Anderson. The fire department said six families are getting help from the American Red Cross.
Residents of the entire apartment complex evacuated when they heard fire alarms and fire trucks enter the area.
Witnesses said it took fire crews around an hour to get the large flames controlled.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but Anderson said inspectors suspect it started out on the balcony of one of the damaged apartments.
As of Thursday afternoon, residents were still standing outside their apartments as firefighters put the final touches on extinguishing the fire and smoke.
Many were hugging their family members and passing out water bottles to exhausted neighbors. Witnesses were most of all thankful that none of their neighbors and friends were injured.
“There’s been a couple of fires here, but nothing close to something as big as this,” said Bekkie McClain, a resident of the apartment complex.
At least a dozen fire engines responded to the fire.
Anderson said it was a lucky break that Willowbrook apartments were so close to the fire station.
“It could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t somewhere so close,” Anderson said. “The area is in a red flag warning right now, so residents have to be extra careful.”
The National Weather Service Office in Spokane had most of Eastern Washington under a red flag warning until 8 p.m. Thursday.
In a news release, the fire department asked residents to be mindful of the hot, dry weather to help protect firefighters.
“With temperatures still high and firefighters fighting daily fires, Firefighter health is a big concern,” the release said. ” The Spokane Valley Fire Department would like everyone to keep the extreme temperatures in the forefront. They are a threat to our community should a fire occur, and they are a threat to firefighters’ health when wearing fire protection gear and equipment that adds 50 to 100 pounds to their body weight. Keeping hydrated is extremely difficult under these conditions.”