PULLMAN, Wash. -Pullman firefighters were able to quickly extinguish a fully involved fire in a basement apartment Tuesday afternoon but not before smoke spread through the other three apartments on Pullman’s College Hill.
Fire crews were called to the older brick building at 330 NE Maple St around 3:30 pm for a report of smoke pouring from the two story building. When Pullman Police officers first arrived they reported that flames were visible and immediately made sure that all the residents had evacuated.
Firefighters said the flames were coming from the kitchen area of a bottom apartment when they made entry and were able to get the fire extinguished. The resident told firefighters that the stove was on when he left the building but the exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined. Whitman County Rural District 12 also responded to the fire.
Crews that first entered the structure said there was fire in the walls between the two bottom apartments. Fire inspector Tony Nuttman said there was smoke damage throughout the four units and some water damage in the two bottom units. Firefighters later discovered that an upstairs toilet was broken and flooding that apartment.
Nuttman estimated the damage to the structure at $100,000 because of all the smoke, electrical, plumbing and water damage. City building inspectors determined that the building, which is owned and managed by the Community Action Center (CAC) of Whitman County, could not be inhabited after the fire. CAC maintenance personnel were on the scene and said the Community Action Center would house the residents at other apartments owned by CAC.
The employees said they had just built the second floor deck and stairway last week that was damaged in today’s fire. They also told fire investigators that they had inspected the downstairs apartment in the morning and determined that it did not have a working smoke detector. They returned to install the new detector just minutes before the fire broke out in the kitchen.
There were no injuries reported. Occupants were looking for some family pets that appeared to have fled through open doors or windows.