Intentionally Set Fire Severely Damages Home, Kills Two Dogs

Justin de Ruyter, Spokane Fire PIO,

Thursday, January 25, 2024 at 3:50 p.m.

On the evening of Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at 9:45 p.m., the Spokane Fire Department received a dispatch about a residential house fire in the 2600 block of East Desmet Avenue. The occupants reported to 9-1-1 that a mattress in a bedroom was ablaze, engulfing the room in flames. There was initial confusion about whether all occupants had evacuated, and it was suggested that one person was unaccounted for.

The duty Safety Officer arrived less than five minutes after dispatch and observed a 1-1/2 story residence with heavy fire at the back. Engine 7 arrived at the scene and quickly deployed a hoseline to address the growing fire, while firefighters from Ladder 1 cut ventilation holes in the roof to assist firefighters from Tower 2 in searching for victims.

Within 20 minutes, the firefighters successfully knocked down the fire, and fortunately, no victims were found in the home. However, three dogs were discovered during the search, one viable and transported to an emergency veterinarian clinic. It was later revealed that the unaccounted-for individual had left the scene before the fire department's arrival and was later arrested by the Spokane Police Department for suspicion of intentionally setting the fire.

A fire investigator confirmed that the fire was intentionally set, resulting in significant losses estimated at over $200,000. Despite the heavy property damage, the firefighters' prompt actions prevented the fire from spreading to nearby homes. Since the residence is uninhabitable, the Red Cross was called to provide temporary housing for three adults, and Avista Utilities ensured the disconnection of services to the home.

The fire grew rapidly due to the materials first ignited, but more critically, the door to the fire room and the home's front door were open when firefighters arrived. The Spokane Fire Department emphasizes the importance of closing doors behind you during a building fire evacuation. This action helps starve the fire of oxygen, limits its growth rate, and temporarily restricts the spread of poisonous gases and smoke throughout the building. This practice buys valuable time for any occupants trapped inside and aids those still in the process of evacuating.