Two injured in garage fire on True Street

Resident recovering from smoke inhalation, damages in thousands



Firefighters assess the damage to the garage of a house located at 312 NW True Street after a structure fire Tuesday.

IAN SMAY, Evergreen reporter

A firefighter and a resident were injured in a garage fire Tuesday morning on True Street in Pullman.

Crews from the Pullman Fire Department and Whitman County Rural District 12 responded to multiple calls of smoke rising from 312 NW True Street around 9:30 a.m., Pullman Mayor and Public Information Officer Glenn Johnson said.

A firefighter responding to the blaze injured his ankle, Pullman FD Assistant Fire Chief Ryan Scharnhorst said.

“Early on, first crew in reported a firefighter injury,” he said. “He has since been transported to the hospital. [The firefighter’s] possibly looking at a broken ankle.”

In addition to the injured firefighter, an inhabitant of the residence was in the backyard when crews arrived, Scharnhorst said. A neighbor alerted arriving crews to the location of the victim, who uses a wheelchair, leading crews to begin rescue efforts before focusing on the flames.

The victim was carried out of the backyard and suffered smoke inhalation, but following medical attention from crews on-scene decided against transport to Pullman Regional Hospital, Johnson said. The victim is expected to recover fully, Scharnhorst said.

While initial reports indicate the fire did not spread to the house, large amounts of smoke caused damage to the upper stories of the dwelling, making it uninhabitable for the time being, he said. The American Red Cross has been asked to provide shelter to the two displaced inhabitants.

Firefighters determined the flames did not spread to the house by pulling down insulation and parts of the ceiling.

Scharnhorst said the fire was contained quicker than expected.

“Crews went inside and they made a really good stop on that with the extent of the smoke and flames I saw when I got here,” he said. “I expected to have an ongoing operation for much longer than we did.”

Investigators could not determine a cause for the fire but discovered the ignition point to be in the west side of the garage, according to a release by Johnson. Damage has been estimated between $50,000 – $75,000, and the homeowner’s insurance had been allowed to lapse.

The Pullman Police Department used the fire as an opportunity to test their drones to give a birds-eye view of the scene, as the first officer to respond was Matt Burkett, who also serves as a drone pilot, according to a news release by Johnson.

The Moscow Fire Department provided an ambulance and fire truck to stand by for other calls as the incident was unfolding, according to the release.