Fire guts duplex in Medical Lake

<p><p>MEDICAL LAKE – Flames engulfed the second floor of a duplex apartment Monday afternoon across from Medical Lake High School.</p></p><p><p>Firefighters were called around 3:20 p.m. to the two-story building, 310 N. Leferve St. By 5:30 p.m., the fire was still burning inside, though the blaze was otherwise under control. Nobody was injured.</p></p><p><p>Spokane County Fire District 3 Chief Cody Rohrbach said firefighters were told the building’s sole resident was the owner, who resided on the second floor. Rohrbach said the owner reportedly left the building about five minutes before the fire was called in and returned to it in flames. Nobody was inside at the time of the fire.</p></p><p><p>The cause has not been determined. Firefighters arrived to flames showing on the south side of the building’s second floor.</p></p><p><p>“Given the extent of the fire and that everybody was out of the building, most of our actions have been spent on ensuring that the fire doesn’t spread to any of the adjacent exposures,” Rohrbach said.</p></p><p><p>Firefighters were challenged by known pre-existing structural issues with the building, said Rohrbach, who added that crews sought to limit firefighters from entering out of fear of possible collapse. The roof collapsed shortly after firefighters arrived, he said.</p></p><p><p>As of 5:30 p.m., firefighters were calling in an excavator to assist with putting out the remaining flames by tearing off what was left of the roof.</p></p><p><p>Rohrbach said the pre-existing structural issues, plus the amount of water that settled onto the second floor from putting out the flames, made for a potentially risky situation for firefighters.</p></p><p><p>“Every time somebody walks under that second-story floor with a foot of water and 65 pounds per cubic foot sitting above them, we risk a firefighter,” Rohrbach said. “If there’s nothing in there that the firefighters are saving, we’re really trying to minimize the risk with them.”</p></p><p><p>Along with Fire District 3, responding crews included county Fire District 10 as well as the Cheney and Airway Heights fire departments.</p></p><p><p>Spokane County property records say the duplex was built in 1955 and identify the owner as Mary S. Aiken.</p></p>