Series of Incendiary Fires Concerns SFD Investigators

Justin de Ruyter, Spokane Fire PIO,

Tuesday, February 27, 2024 at 3:26 p.m.

Following a recent string of incendiary fires in Spokane, the Special Investigations Unit of the Spokane Fire Department is urging the public to stay vigilant to prevent further fires and aid in their investigations.

The initial incident occurred on February 12, 2024, at 7:16 p.m. in the 5400 block of West Barnes Road. Callers notified 9-1-1 dispatch of a fire emanating from a parked van. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and discovered a hole drilled into the vehicle's gas tank and a nearby portable drill. Evidence collected at the scene, including images from nearby security cameras, revealed that an unidentified individual attempted to siphon gasoline by drilling into the tank. The van was destroyed, resulting in an estimated loss of $50,000.

On February 26, 2024, at 11:40 a.m., another arson incident occurred at 152 South Monroe Street, outside the building housing the Old Spaghetti Factory. Security footage captured an unidentified male setting fire to debris from a transient camp located in the adjacent alley. The fire smoldered for several hours before spreading into the building's HVAC system. Although the building's masonry exterior limited external damage, firefighters had to conduct interior checks to ensure the fire hadn't spread inside, resulting in approximately $10,000 in damages.

Later that same evening, at 11:49 p.m., another fire broke out in the 200 block of West Indiana Avenue. Multiple 9-1-1 callers reported flames visible from the exterior of a commercial building. Firefighters found a significant blaze at the loading dock, threatening to spread indoors. Investigators determined that the fire originated from an area being used illegally for camping on the property. Firefighters managed to contain the blaze before it breached the building's interior, preventing further damage. The estimated loss from this incident is $50,000, with the building's value preserved at over $500,000.

Fire investigators urge the public and property owners to help by ensuring properties are clear of debris, particularly around structures. They recommend maintaining functional security cameras that cover all angles of the property. Additionally, if you witness or experience a fire and have footage available, please get in touch with fire investigators at 509-625-7120 to assist with their inquiries.