Brian Schaeffer, Assistant Chief, 509.625.7002
Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 11:51 a.m.
Narrative: Early Thursday morning on October 17th, 2013 at 1:09 A.M. the Spokane Fire Department responded to a report of a fire inside a commercial warehouse approximately 200x150 feet (Global Metals Technology) located at 3200 E. Trent. Engine 8, from their neighborhood station at Mission and Rebecca, arrived and found a 20 foot tilt up style masonry building with smoke coming from the general vicinity of the roof area. After a complete “360” assessment and size up, Engine 8's crew decided that this operation would require additional help so they turned in a full alarm. This full alarm brought additional units from Station 1 (downtown), Station 2 (Logan neighborhood), Station 7 (East Central), Rescue 9 (Manito Park area), and Station 14 (Lincoln Park neighborhood). Once on scene the crews developed a plan of attack that included gaining access in the quickest way possible to pinpoint the source of the fire and extinguish it. Engine 8's initial size up indicated a sulphur type odor in the air. A quick check of the atmosphere by Rescue 9 and the Haz Mat Team from Station 1 discovered both Hydrogen Sulfide and Hydrogen Cyanide present in air inside the building.
The Spokane Police Department was summoned to help with traffic control and to isolate the areas directly to the north of the building so that no one was nearby the smoke coming from the structure. While the Haz Mat Team continued to monitor the air, a Fire Attack Team was being assembled and briefed for an aggressive attack on the fire. Ladder 1 accessed the roof to assist in pinpointing the source of the smoke and also to confirm any roof involvement. Near one corner of the building, the Fire Attack Team forced entry on a door, systematically searching for any signs of heat with their thermal imaging cameras and hose lines. After a short span of searching, they located the fire confined to two 50 gallon burlap sacks filled with a type of ore that was burning with a low intensity flame. The material was dragged to the outside where it was knocked down and extinguished. Firefighters continued to monitor the air and confirmed that no one remained inside the building.
The focus then became ventilation of the building due to the residual smoke trapped within. Crews made use of the building's HVAC system and alternated between this and horizontal ventilation using positive pressure power fans. Eventually, readings detected by Haz Mat Team monitors were considerably lower and, finally, at safe levels. Total on scene time for this incident was approximately 4.5 hours. There was one person evacuated just north of this complex as confirmed by the Spokane Police Department. Firefighters remained on the scene working with the building owner, the Department of Ecology, and the Spokane Fire Department Investigation Unit. The entire building housing 3 businesses was kept off limits to all occupants, including workers, through the early morning hours. The cause is still unknown at this time, however the incident is still under investigation by the the Spokane Fire Department Special Investigation Unit. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.
Cause: Unknown at this time. Under investigation by the Spokane Fire Department Special Investigation Unit.
Damage: Damage confined to two burlap sacks full of flammable metal and/or chemicals. Forcible door damage. Smoke damage throughout warehouse.
# Firefighters Responding: 22
Dollar Loss: $ 5,000
Other Agencies Responding: Spokane Police Department, State of Washington Department of Ecology.