Cheney Free Press -

By Lee Hughes

Medical Lake teacher's home burns in New Years Eve blaze

Family displaced until new home can be found


Last updated 1/2/2020 at 9:07am

Venus Bratsveen/Cheney Free Press

A fire that broke out New Year's Eve at 439 N. Fourth St. has displaced Medical Lake Middle School special education teacher Ben Hill and his family.

CHENEY - A local family was displace after a New Year's Eve fire made its rental home uninhabitable.

Medical Lake Middle School special education teacher Ben Hill and his three children weren't home when a passerby noticed the fire at 439 N. Sixth St.and dialed 911 at about 6:30–7 p.m., according to Fire Department Lt. Tim Steiner, the incident commander on the blaze.

Firefighters from Cheney and Spokane County Fire District No. 3 were able to quickly contain the fire to a single room, but had to remove part of the ceiling to ensure the fire hadn't spread, Steiner said.

"They're going to be out of the house for a while," he said.

Officials didn't have to go far to notify Hill, who is also a volunteer firefighter and the District No. 3 chaplain.

He and his family are currently staying in a hotel while they search for another home, according to Lisa Lemire, Hill's coworker at the middle school.

Hill had the task of informing his wife, a paraeducators at the Medical Lake School District, who was out of town, Lemire said.

"I don't think they will even be able to get back into it," she said of the damaged home, adding housewares and other belongings didn't appear salvageable.

Medical Lake schools' teachers and staff are helping to pay for the hotel and to get the family back on their feet "as much as we can," Lemire said.

An account is planned to be opened in the Hill's name at Spokane Teachers Credit Union for donations to help the family recover, she said.

Lemire added that Hill is known as a favorite teacher with a big heart among middle school students. And, among all his other activities, he is also a multi-sport coach.

Lemire shared a story about Hill to illustrate his character.

While she and other teachers were attending a conference in Las Vegas they came upon a homeless person whose bare feet were damaged by hot concrete and asphalt. She said she watched as Hill remove his shoes and gave them to the person.

"They are just really great people," Lemire said. "They would help people out in a moment, but if you ask he will say he doesn't need anything."

Lee Hughes can be reached at


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