4 injured in downtown Spokane apartment fire

SPOKANE, Wash. — Four people were taken to local hospitals Thursday for injuries suffered in a fire at the Park Place Tower Apartments.

At around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Spokane firefighters responded to a fire alarm at the 20-story, 185 unit building. Smoke could be seen two blocks away from the Spokane Fire Department Headquarters.

Firefighters said four people suffered minor injuries, but one man suffered severe burns and smoke inhalation. The man was trapped in a room on the 9th floor when the fire started, but crews were able to rescue him and take him to the hospital.

Because of the high-rise, they upgraded the fire to a third alarm, which means they need more firefighters.

“We’re kinda strapped now with resources — both in the city with the two large third alarm fires, but also a number of other incidents that certainly continue as the day goes on,” said Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer.

One woman says her husband could smell smoke from his apartment of the 12th floor.

“We had lunch — me and my sister. He called and he said there’s a fire, come. I thought he laughed or joked with us, but he told the truth,” said Nidhal Barakat.

One unit was destroyed by the flames and the rest of the floor suffered slight smoke damage.

The department told people to shelter in place when the fire was put out. Firefighters also enacted the county disaster plan, which means a team decides what patients will go to which hospital so they don’t overload any of them with patients.

“Pragmatically we’ll be making contacting with them and determining whether they need to go to the hospital,” Schaeffer said.

Schaeffer says there were many challenges to this fire. Several people that live in the building have pre-existing medical conditions or can’t move around easily without help.

The building also has no sprinkler system, only a fire alarm.

“We are concerned with buildings that are this type of construction, this height without having sprinkler systems,” Schaeffer explained. “The consequences are very predictable, so we try to reduce that risk as much as we can.”

The fire is now out and the fire’s cause and origin are currently under investigation by the SFD.

It’s the second, third alarm fire that broke out on Thursday. The other happened around 4 a.m. near Railroad Alley and Monroe.

Schaeffer says two, third alarm fires in one day has happened before. However, it doesn’t happen often.

“It’s a busy day. It’s not insurmountable, it’s what we do, it’s what people expect us to do. It certainly is challenging at times,” he said.

READ: Crews contain downtown Spokane fire, no injuries reported