Fire Resources Stretched Thin - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Fire Resources Stretched Thin

SPOKANE, Wash. - The Spokane Fire Department was stretched thin after 2 house fires at the same time this afternoon drained resources that are only going to get thinner with more budget cuts on the way.

The first fire broke out just before 5:00 p.m. Monday on 51st and Crestline on the South Hill ripping threw the garage and burning a large portion of the house. Thirty minutes later, another house fire started on the north side of Spokane off of Assembly Street and West Sanson Avenue.

Despite the second house sitting across the street from a fire station on Assembly, there were few firefighters left to respond after many of the resources for the department were already working on medical emergency calls and the South Hill fire.

Fire Chief Bobby Williams said the department had to rely on mutual aid from the Valley Fire Department and District 9 from the north side to help fight the fires. The chief adds it will only get worse with more budget cuts expected for 2011.

"We've gone down in staffing. At one point we had 83 people on duty everyday. We're at 58 today. We had 17 fire stations, we're at down to 14. We had 28 apparatus, we're down to 17. It really stretches the system thin."

Chief Williams said the public can expect longer response times than normal due to the reduction in staffing.

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