Vacant motel catches fire near downtown Coeur d’Alene

An old motel near downtown Coeur d’Alene caught fire early Sunday morning.

Firefighters said the building used to be the Garden Motel on Northwest Boulevard. On Monday, firefighters said the building is an entire loss, with the majority of the roof gone and no areas inside that are not damaged.

The building had been vacant for many years. According to the Coeur d’Alene Press, it was purchased by a developer in 2002 and was set to be demolished soon.

Crews from three different fire departments — Coeur d’Alene, Kootenai County and Northern Lakes — all responded to help fight the fire, with 28 firefighters in total.

Crews said because the building was unoccupied. There was no power or gas to building at the time. They took a defensive strategy of fighting the fire from the outside to avoid sending crews into the burning building. Firefighters told 4 News Now they’ve heard of squatters inhabiting the building in the past, but said it is too early to tell if that could have contributed to the fire.

“That’s been a challenge for us is actually getting water to the seed of the fire, but that’s a normal challenge when you go defensive and all your operations are from the outside,” said fire investigator Craig Etherton. “Sometimes transients do break in, so unfortunately that’s a part of what we have to try to account for too.”

It’s not clear how the fire started. Fire investigators hope to be able to begin the process of determining a cause on Monday. They said they will begin digging out areas of interest and will be on scene for another couple of days.

“At this point in time, no loss of life, nobody’s missing, all we’re dealing with right now is an abandoned property and trying to make sure that the fire didn’t spread to any other buildings that were near it.” said Etherton.

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