‘House was engulfed’: How to protect your home from a house fire before it’s too late

SPOKANE, Wash. — The Spokane Fire Department responded to three home fires in two days. One person lost their life from fire-related injuries over the weekend, and multiple families are displaced.

While you can’t plan for a house fire, you can take proactive steps to protect your family.

“It woke me up from a dead sleep,” said Robert Hinshaw. He lives right next to a home that’s a total loss on Lidgerwood and Lacrosse. “Popped open the window, and the house was just engulfed.”

Hinshaw saw his neighbor’s home smothered in flames early Monday morning. Thankfully, no one died in that fire, but Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer says one elderly victim did die following a fire on Saturday night.

“It has been a tough last couple days,” said Schaeffer.

The Spokane Fire Department battled three fires in just two days all across the city. Some houses had working smoke alarms. Others didn’t. The smoke alarms in the house fire on Lacrosse went off, but that wasn’t enough.

“The two people upstairs were awoken by the dog,” Schaeffer said. “They did not hear the smoke alarms.”

Schaeffer says people often have smoke alarms, but just one or two alarms may not cut it.

“We want to make sure that there are smoke alarms on the outside and on the inside of every bedroom,” the Chief said.

You need multiple alarms and multiple ways out. In the fire at 200 E. Lacrosse, neighbors pulled someone out from a basement window. That’s the only way they could get out.

If you have a basement, you need an escape window. If you have multiple stories, there should be fire ladders in every room. You should change out your smoke alarms every 10 years, and change the batteries even more. When you change your clocks, change your batteries.

“It makes me feel good to know that I have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers just in case,” Hinshaw said.

Neighbors are double checking their smoke alarms following the close call in their backyards. Hinshaw says he’s never seen a fire this close, and it definitely made him think twice about emergency plans.

He’s encouraging everyone to “keep your families close.”

If you aren’t able to afford your own smoke detector, Schaeffer says fire agencies across the region will install them for free. Call your local fire department with questions you have about fire safety and prevention.

READ: N. Spokane home damaged in early morning fire

READ: Spokane Fire puts out two residential fires overnight, victim in critical condition