Investigators Release Cause of Fatal House Fire

Justin de Ruyter, Spokane Fire PIO,

Monday, April 22, 2024 at 3:50 p.m.

Investigators from the Spokane Fire Special Investigations Unit have concluded their inquiry into the fatal house fire at 1717 North Howard Street on Saturday, April 20, 2024. The investigation involved collaboration with the Spokane Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The investigation determined that the fire was accidental, caused by an electrical malfunction. Investigators identified an extension cord in place of permanent wiring as the point of failure. The fire originated on the front porch near the garage and rapidly spread to the upstairs living quarters where the family members were located. Furthermore, investigators found no functional smoke alarms in the residence.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victims during this time as they process this tremendous loss.” Fire Chief Julie O’Berg.

The Spokane Fire Department would like to emphasize that licensed electricians should perform all electrical modifications or additions through a permitted process. Extension cords should never be substituted for permanent wiring. Additionally, smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside the bedrooms in the hallway. Alarms should be tested semi-annually during daylight saving time changes, and they should also be checked to ensure they are within ten years of the manufactured date located on the back of the alarm. 

The Spokane Fire Department offers no-cost smoke alarm installations for homes in the City of Spokane with a need. These alarms are only available for households within Spokane City Limits served by Spokane Fire Department. If you are in need of smoke alarms call us at 509.625.7149, email:, or fill out the online application located on our website at

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