Tour Commander, 509.625.7100
Thursday, May 19, 2022 at 12:23 p.m.
This morning at 09:21 AM, FireComm received a message reporting an automatic alarm activating in the high-rise building (Park Tower Apartments) at 217 West Spokane Falls Boulevard in downtown Spokane.
FireComm received several 911 calls in rapid succession reporting smoke from the building's occupants on the ninth floor. As a result, the incident was upgraded to reinforce the initial response due to the number of firefighters needed to fight a downtown high-rise fire. The structure is a 20-story, 185-unit-occupied building that serves as the home for many of our community's vulnerable and medically at-risk members.
Companies arrived within 3-minutes of dispatch and were met by occupants evacuating their units and assembling in the lobby. An audible and visual fire alarm was activating appropriately throughout the building.
Firefighters carried hundreds of feet of hose, tools, air bottles, and necessary firefighting equipment up the nine flights of stairs to extinguish the fire. The occupant from the unit of origin was in the apartment at the fire. She reported seeing fire beneath a desk. A caregiver was coincidently at her door for an appointment and assisted her in escaping from the unit.
Eventually, firefighters climbed all 20 floors to confine the fire, search for residents in need, and control the building's utilities. Fire Department Paramedics and AMR treated two residents suffering from medical issues related to the smoke. One was transported to definitive care. Throughout the incident, countless occupants were assisted by firefighters, many needing assistance exiting through an evacuation stairwell or simply ambulating to shelter-in-place.
Heat and smoke damaged one unit and caused slight damage to the floor of origin due to the smoke. Over 50 firefighters extinguished the blaze in just 15 minutes. The 185-unit apartment complex has hard-wired smoke alarms and fire doors but not automatic sprinklers. Automatic Sprinklers would be required for the structure if constructed today to improve the level of protection.
Firefighters remained on the scene for one hour, protecting the occupant's belongings from additional damage during the salvage and overhaul operations while the investigation was underway. The building's fire alarm system has been restored, and they have been allowed to reoccupy all floors (except for the room of origin). The fire's cause and origin of the incident remain under investigation by SFD.