Downtown apartment fire ruled accidental

Michele Anderson, Public Safety Communications Manager

Thursday, April 4, 2019 at 2:52 p.m.

The cause of a downtown apartment fire that displaced multiple residents on March 20 has been ruled accidental.

Investigators with the Spokane Fire Department’s Special Investigation Unit advise the fire was ignited after a bedside candle came in contact with a pillow after a resident fell asleep. The fire quickly spread, but firefighters were able to contain the fire to three apartments in the three-story masonry building.

The Spokane Fire Department and Spokane Valley Fire Department responded to the fire in the 300 block of W. 4th Ave. at approximately 7:05 a.m. Fire companies arrived to heavy smoke and flames coming from the first floor of the building.

Occupants of the building reported to fire investigators that they began evacuating after hearing the sound of the alarm system that was activated via a pull station.

There were no reported injuries to civilians. One firefighter was transported to the hospital due to dehydration but was later released.

The Spokane Fire Department urges community members to follow these safety tips to help avoid a candle-related tragedy from occurring:

  • Use battery-operated flameless candles as an alternative to traditional open flame candles.
  • If you do use candles, ensure that they are placed in sturdy holders.
  • Use candles in sturdy metal, glass or ceramic holders that are placed where they won’t tip over easily. Be sure they are large enough to collect dripping wax.
  • Keep candles away from items that can catch fire such as decorations, curtains and draperies, bedding, clothing, books, etc.
  • Always extinguish all candles when leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • Never leave your home with candles burning, and do not leave candles burning unattended.
  • Keep candles and all open flames away from flammable liquids.
  • Keep candle wicks trimmed to one-quarter inch, and extinguish taper and pillar candles when they get to within two inches of the holders. Votive candles and containers should be extinguished before the last half-inch of wax starts to melt.