Neighbors dig through belongings after fatal condo fire

UPDATE: The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office has identified the man who died as 81-year-old Howard Holmes. His cause of death was from smoke inhalation.

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One person died and several condo units were destroyed in a fire Sunday night at the Central Park Condominiums in Spokane Valley.

Dozens of people living in building K stood and watched their belongings go up in smoke. The Spokane Valley Fire Department confirmed on Monday that one person was killed.

Stephanie Combs was one of several condo owners who told Kxly that the victim was an older man who used portable oxygen. SVFD investigators have not released any details about the person who died, or what started the fire.

“I have no roof anymore,” Combs said. “As they were pouring the water in, all the wall boards and the insulation and all of my things are just buried in water.”

Combs was on the other side of the state when she got a call about her condo, which she’s owned for the last 4 years. She went back inside Monday morning to gather up the few things that survived the flames. Combs was relieved to find a ceramic dish that her grandmother made for her mother. She also found her laptop – tucked away in an unlikely place.

“[Firefighters] had taken my laptop, unplugged it, and put it in the oven to try and save it,” Combs said. ” The firemen here, the firefighters, have just done an incredible job.”

Combs, who grew up in Spokane Valley, plans to move back to her home on the East Coast. “I feel like I’m 17 years old again and everything I own fits in the back of my car,” she said.

Spokane Valley Fire investigators said it will likely take several days to determine what caused the fire. The Spokane County Medical Examiner will release the victim’s name.