Fire at abandoned Spokane building puts the problem of squatters - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Fire at abandoned Spokane building puts the problem of squatters in spotlight

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

Firefighters say squatters are likely to blame for a fire that destroyed an abandoned building Tuesday morning.

The building, located near the corner of North Market Street and East Wellesley Avenue, caught fire shortly before 6 a.m.

According to the Spokane Fire Department, the building has been vacant for a quite some time, but there have been reports of homeless individuals taking shelter inside.

“One man escaped from the building and advised us that there might be another person inside,” says Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. “They are targets for homeless who don't want to use the shelters or try to avoid the shelters. They look for building like this to occupy and stay warm.”

Chief Schaeffer says many homeless people take shelter inside vacant buildings during winter months to escape the cold.

“Often times they’ll start their own fires to cook and stay warm,” said Chief Schaeffer/ “And then we subsequently end up with a situation like we had today with a destroyed building in our community, or worse people are hurt or killed.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Spokane Fire Department’s Special Investigation Unit.

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