Spokane, WA- This morning March 20, shortly after 12am, patrol officers were in the area of East Sprague and heard a loud explosion. They arrived immediately on scene at E. 2nd Ave and S. Ralph St. to discover smoke and a large fire coming from the northwest corner of the WSDOT Camp. Officers observed a tent fully engulfed in flames and propane tanks shooting up into the sky. Flames and smoke could be seen from miles away and the explosion could be heard throughout the city. Officers assisted two people, who were in the tent at the time of the explosion, to a safe location and began rendering aid prior to medics arriving. A female suffered significant burns and a male also suffered numerous burns. Both were transported to an area hospital.
The Spokane Fire Department arrived and quickly extinguished the fire. Fire investigators say the cause of the fire is human cause, accidental. The investigation revealed that the two victims were transfilling propane tanks in the tent where a propane heater was in operation. Leaking propane from the transfill filled the tent and caused the explosion and subsequent fire. Firefighters remained on scene after the fire was extinguished to deal with multiple propane tanks at the scene that were still releasing propane.
This was an extremely dangerous situation with the multiple propane tanks at the scene of the fire, and dozens more on site. Both police and fire note this incident could have been far worse as all residents of the camp were placed in danger.