Cooking Fire Leaves One with Critical Injuries

Justin de Ruyter, Spokane Fire PIO,

Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at 7:55 a.m.

At 6:32 this evening, the Spokane Fire Department, with assistance from Spokane County Fire District 10, was dispatched to an apartment complex at 7723 West US 2 Hwy for a report of a kitchen fire. One occupant from the affected unit evacuated and informed 9-1-1 dispatchers that the fire started in the kitchen and her husband was still inside. Additional callers confirmed visible smoke and flames from the unit.

Engine 6 arrived three minutes after the dispatch and confirmed that a male subject was still inside. Firefighters stretched a hoseline to the front door but encountered difficulty opening it entirely due to debris blocking the way. They briefly knocked down some of the fire, then rerouted the hoseline to the rear door of the unit leading to the kitchen. There, they gained entry and quickly extinguished the visible fire before starting a search for the victim. Despite limited visibility and excessive clutter, firefighters found the victim on the floor in a bedroom. They removed him and initiated advanced life support measures.

Additional firefighters arrived and searched adjacent units for victims and fire extension but found nothing remarkable. Once the fire was confirmed to be contained in the original unit, firefighters began ventilating the smoke with fans and ensuring complete extinguishment.

The female occupant who evacuated reported that she and her husband were making dinner and had briefly left the kitchen to use the restroom. While inside the restroom, she smelled smoke and heard the smoke alarms simultaneously. Upon exiting, she saw the fire spread beyond the stovetop, forcing her to stay low to the floor to escape the dense smoke and flames.

Paramedics with AMR rushed the adult male victim to the hospital in critical condition. A fire investigator confirmed the cause of the fire was unattended cooking and estimated damages at $80,000, with firefighters saving property valued at $500,000. Avista Utilities was also requested at the scene to secure utilities for the affected unit.

The Spokane Fire Department wants to remind our citizens of the dangers of leaving cooking unattended, even for a moment. Unattended cooking is the leading cause of residential fires, resulting in an average of 158,400 reported home structure fires yearly. These fires also lead to an average of 470 civilian deaths and 4,150 civilian injuries annually.

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