Staff Reporter 

AH fire requires multi-agency response


Last updated 7/3/2019 at 7:52am

A fire on Friday, June 28, in Airway Heights required a response from nearly every agency in the West Plains when a mobile home and yard debris were consumed in a blaze that could be seen for several blocks.

The call came into the Airway Heights Fire Department at 9:40 p.m., Fire Chief Mitch Metzger said. The incident was initially reported as a brush fire, leading crews to respond with a wildfire truck before heading to a nearby station to swap out their equipment for instruments more useful for structure fires.

“It was a hoarder house,” Metzger said. “That doesn’t describe it well enough — the yard from fence line to fence line was completely stacked full with just little goat trails going through it to the house.”

The home, located in a residential neighborhood on West Drive and 12th Avenue, has long been on the radar of local code enforcement and has even been referenced as an issue in City Council meetings. The home was scheduled for abatement by the city next month, Public Works Director Kevin Anderson said at the July 1 City Council meeting.

Flammable material was stacked head-height in the yard — materials like tires, lawn mowers and propane tanks. A truck full of pallets was parked in front of the house.

“A lot of stuff that was stored was combustible material,” Metzger said.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Firefighters and personnel from Spokane, Medical Lake, Cheney, Spokane County District 3, Spokane County District 10 and Fairchild Air Force Base also responded, Metzger said.

When firefighters arrived the home was fully involved. Firefighters worked defensively all night to prevent flames from spreading to nearby mobile homes, although one next door experienced minor exterior and interior damage.

The fire “could have extended to the neighborhood,” Metzger said, especially because a tree on the property caught fire and began throwing sparks in all directions.

The fire took about 13 hours to extinguish.

The male resident of the house was not injured and no one was home in the adjacent mobile home. In a precautionary move, one firefighter was sent to the hospital to be evaluated for issues relating to mild carbon monoxide poisoning but was cleared two hours later and returned to the fire line to continue battling the blaze.

By the time firefighters left the scene Saturday afternoon, the affected home had sustained significant damage with just the chimney, foundation and a few walls left standing. Fire officials said the owner has been connected with the Red Cross and relatives living in the area.

Shannen Talbot can be reached at


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