November 13 – A woman has died after an apartment in Browne’s Addition caught fire early Saturday morning.

A neighbor in the 2300 block of West Pacific Avenue called 911 around 3:10 a.m. and reported a strong chemical smell, saying she also heard what she believed to be an argument and a woman crying, and a its comparable to someone falling, according to a Spokane Fire Department press release.

Spokane police responded and reported a similar chemical smell before determining a unit in the building was on fire, firefighters said.

Firefighters responded and saw heavy gunfire from behind the building, the statement said.

Neighbor John Combs said he woke up to lights from fire engines on his street. He said he saw flames rising to tree branches hanging above the roof of the building.

“That little building was really going up,” Combs said. “Good thing they got there when they did.”

The police found the woman in cardiac arrest and removed her from the apartment. Firefighters attempted to resuscitate the woman while other crews worked to put out the blaze. The flames were mostly confined to the apartment and extinguished within 25 minutes.

The building was evacuated and all occupants were found, firefighters said.

Marlene Martino, who has lived in the building for 15 years, said the fire displaced everyone who lived there and the American Red Cross helped those, including Martino, who needed shelter at the hotel. She said she didn’t know when she and the other residents would be able to return to their units. She believed the building contains eight units.

Martino said water used by firefighters to put out the flames flooded his unit, which is on the first floor. The fire damaged a unit on the top floor, she said.

“It’s a disaster in there,” Martino said of his flooded apartment. “It’s awful.”

She said she was asleep when the fire started, but then her dog started barking and she heard a woman scream. Shortly after, firefighters and police knocked on his door and told him to evacuate.

Martino said she took her dog out of her unit but her cat wouldn’t come out. She said first responders told her the cat would be fine.

Martino said she saw flames at the back of the building and smelled smoke as she exited. She said the deceased woman had recently moved into the building.

“I’m very stressed and upset,” Martino said.

The woman’s name and details surrounding her death will come from the Spokane Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit and the Spokane County Medical Examiner, according to the release. Monetary loss from the fire has not been determined and the cause of the fire is being investigated by the Spokane Fire Department Special Investigation Unit.

The fire is the second fatal fire at Browne’s Addition in as many years.

Two people were killed in a suspicious fire that engulfed two apartment buildings on West Second Avenue in August 2021.


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