Tour Commander, 509.625.7100
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at 12:35 p.m.
On November 16, 2020, at 7:59 PM, the Spokane Fire Department was dispatched to a reported illegal burn located at 801 North Division (Holiday Inn). The initial report indicated that an uncontrolled fire was situated below the hotel in a basalt rock outcropping. The initial company arrived within four minutes are found a working fire emanating from what appeared a natural cave below the hotel. Firefighters quickly determined that a natural gas line inside the basalt cave had ruptured. The flowing natural gas found an ignition source and exploded in heavy fire.
Due to the heavy fire and proximity to the hotel, the initial incident commander upgraded the incident to a commercial building fire. The incident eventually required six engines, three ladder companies, and two battalion chiefs to bring under control.
Although fire companies were successful in keeping the fire from reaching the Holiday Inn from North River Drive, the hotel was evacuated and searched. Due to the nature of the basalt rock below the hotel, gas and smoke continued to permeate through the surface for a period until Avista crews controlled the gas flow.
The fire's heat reached hundreds of degrees and ultimately melted rock, nearby water pipes, and damaged underground infrastructure. The cause of the leak remains under active investigation.