Flames Gut Washington Apartment Complex

A two-alarm fire hit a South Hill apartment complex late Friday afternoon, destroying six apartments. So far there is no word of any injuries. The fire was at the Biltmore Apartments, located at 2525 East 53rd Avenue at the intersection of Regal and 53rd. The fire was called in to the fire department at 4:59 p.m. for a "Structure Fire - Full Response" and the Spokane Fire Department sent 13 units to the scene to fight the fire.

Within an hour they had the fire knocked down and began performing mop-up operations. Fire crews are also working to account for all the occupants of the apartments. Six apartments were destroyed in the blaze. The total cost of property damage is unknown at this time. A stretch of Regal Street between Palouse Highway and 53rd Avenue was closed for several hours as fire crews finished mop-up operations, as well as work to determine what started the blaze. One can never prepare to lose your home, but that's what happened for six Spokane families Friday night.

Spokane fire crews have finished mopping up the apartment fire, but some firefighters will stay there overnight to prevent it from reigniting. From on top of the roof and from below, crews battled the fire from all sides. "It was really scary," said Carisse Cain. "It went very fast." No one was inside when the fire started, but the heavy smoke damaged the 12-unit building. It destroyed six apartments.

A Spokane fire investigator believes a barbeque grill left unattended on a balcony is to blame. While there was very little to salvage, the possessions that were brought out may have been the only bright side for owners. A wedding photo album, $50,000 worth of jewelry, and the newest addition to Alyson Pickering's family, two kittens. "I was scared to death," she said. "They're little. We've only had them for a month now."

Firefighters ripped a hole through the roof of her apartment, but all Pickering could think about were her pets. Some pets didn't survive the fire. Zuma and Shasta did. "I was pretty relieved," Pickering said. It was tough for firefighters, as well. A long day, marked with the hot weather, meant that they had to rotate shifts every couple of hours to avoid heat exhaustion.

The Red Cross not only brought food and plenty of water for firefighters relief, but stayed close to families who lost everything. "We're going to be here for the families in any way," said Thomas Stredwick from the Red Cross. "We have volunteers around to take down information, to provide them money to buy shoes, clothing, all things destroyed by this fire." The Red Cross is assisting 11 adults and three kids.

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