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Similar fires that ended differently


Last updated 2/14/2019 at 4:30pm

Cheney firefighters were busy Feb. 4 with a pair of incidents that each had different outcomes because of one device — sprinklers.

According to a department report, firefighters responded to an apartment fire at Eagle Point Apartments on the 1000 block of Betz Road that was apparently started on the unit’s stove while one of the occupants was cooking. Fortunately, an automatic overhead fire sprinkler head in the kitchen activated, confining the fire to the unit and preventing it from spreading to other apartments in the building.

All of the residents in the building were evacuated, but eventually allowed to return to their apartments, except for those in the affected unit, Battalion Chief Ken Johnson wrote in the report. Firefighters from Cheney and Spokane County Fire District 3 shut down the unit’s sprinkler system and checked for “fire extension to minimize any damage from the fire.”

No injuries were reported. It’s the third time a fire suppression sprinkler has activated and prevented an apartment fire from doing much more damage at Eagle Point, Johnson said.

“Thanks to minimal fire damage, these occupants will be able to move back in after only a few days,” Johnson said in the Feb. 5 report. “More significant damage would have occurred if it wasn’t for the success of the fire sprinkler system.”

An onsite manager at Eagle Point confirmed the fire on Monday, Feb. 11, but didn’t know if the occupants had returned to the unit. He referred the incident to the complex’s leasing agent’s media affairs department, who had yet to contact the Cheney Free Press as of press time.

That’s in contrast to another fire that took place last Monday, Feb. 4, at a house on Cedar Street. It also stemmed from a kitchen fire, but because there was no fire suppression system in the residence, that it caused much more damage to the structure before firefighters were able to extinguish it, Johnson said in a Feb. 8 email.

The four individuals in the residence were able to get out, thanks to being warned by working smoke detectors. Johnson said the house will likely need a full kitchen remodel as well a significant cleaning and painting throughout the home, something that could take several months.

“The overall point I would make is that the residential sprinkler system is helping the owners (of residences with systems installed) reduce damage to their investments and save lives,” Johnson said.

John McCallum can be reached at


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