Fire Strikes Spokane Apartment Known for False Alarms

One resident was burned Friday in a fire in a north Spokane apartment building that has been plagued by false alarms.

Firefighters arrived at the home converted into apartments at 903 W. Augusta Ave. at 2:45 p.m. to find a column of smoke rising into the air and flames visible through a front window. Most residents, however, still were inside.

“We’ve had a problem with this structure for a while with false alarms, and people are reluctant to leave,” said Spokane Fire Department Battalion Chief Joel Fielder. “Our crews have come here several times over the last month. People think it’s just another false alarm.”

The faulty alarm system, which had had problems for about a month, had recently been repaired and inspected, Fielder said.

Firefighters rescued several people from inside the eight apartments. One resident was taken to ahospital for treatmentof burns and smoke inhalation.

Another resident just had time to grab his two cats before escaping into the snowon bare feet. Resident Steve Zimmerman sat in a lawn chair bundled in blankets as he waited for the Red Cross to arrive. A neighbor brought him a cup of hot coffee and a cigarette as he waited.

“I heard the alarm and came out,” Zimmerman said. “I live on the second floor – or did.”

The flames were confined to an apartment on the first floor, said Fielder. Residents in the other apartmentslikely will be able to return in a day or two once power is restored, he said.

Spokane County property records indicate that the building was constructed in 1904 and is owned by Jack and Jennifer Radke, of Liberty Lake.

Jaclyn Archer contributed to this report. 

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