North Battalion O'Malley Fire

Brian Schaeffer, Assistant Chief, 509.625.7002

Friday, October 4, 2013 at 7:14 a.m.

Narrative: On Friday October 4, 2013 at 07:14 AM, 5 Engine companies under the direction of AC Schaeffer responded to a reported commercial building fire at 707 East Mission Avenue, the O'Malley Apartments (the O'Mally apartments are located in the Gonzaga neighborhood and have 99 one-bedroom units that are handicapped accessible).

The incident was dispatched simultaneously as the early morning technical rescue in the Purina Plant (4714 East Trent) and a cardiac arrest, which exhausted the majority of the City's resources. The first unit on-scene arrived within six-minutes and reported a four-story apartment building with smoke showing from the third story balcony on the Mission Avenue side. Immediately upon arriving, the Chief noted that occupants had escaped the heavy smoke and took refuge on the third-story balcony and were waiting to be rescued.

The first engine arrived minutes later and made contact with the occupants waiting on the third floor balcony, made sure the door behind them was closed and reassured them they were safe. Immediately after making contact with the residents they entered the building, secured the stairwell and made their way to the third floor with tools and equipment to fight the fire. Additional arriving companies were assigned backup the first engine, supported the building's standpipe system and begin searching for victims. The toxic smoke on the third floor was reported to be banked down to just a few feet from the floor and the decision was made to shelter most residents in place on the third floor and evacuate the ones on floors two and one (to avoiding removing at-risk residents into the smoke-filled hallways and stairwells). The incident was upgraded immediately to a working fire and modified to include an MCI (mass casualty incident) response. Mutual aid resources from Spokane Valley Fire Department, six ambulances from AMR with management, STA with a bus and Spokane Police Department with traffic officers were brought to the scene to assist with the numerous patients and the influx of traffic due to the beginning of the school day for nearby St. Aloysius Gonzaga School.

It took 25 firefighters and 12 AMR employees just over one-hour to completely extinguish and overhaul the fire, evacuate the residents to safe areas of refuge on the first floor and medically evaluate/treat seven residents and a facility employee with various levels of smoke inhalation. No firefighters were injured in the process of mitigating the incident.

Cause: The nature was determined to be accidental and cause was a laundry basket left on an electric stovetop that had been accidentally turned on. The fire spread vertically to cabinets and combustibles throughout the unit.

Damage: Damage was limited to the unit of origin, however smoke damage throughout the third floor hallway. The concrete construction and a maintenance worker's attempts to keep the fire contained aided in keeping the fire's damage limited to the unit.

# Firefighters Responding: 25

Dollar Loss: $5000

Other Agencies Responding: Fire District 1, Spokane Police Department