‘It’s all too familiar to us’: Familes deal with the devastation of another apartment fire

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Six families are without a home, and two firefighters had to go to the hospital after a challenging fire erupted at the Willowbrook Apartments on Thursday.

Crews from Spokane Valley, the city and the Sheriff’s department were all needed to get the flames under control. Some residents who live at the complex saw the flames in Post Falls and rushed back home.

“It’s all too familiar to us,” said Sara Rownfats. She’s lived at Willowbrook for a little over a year and was in another apartment fire just a year ago at a different complex.

“The smells, all the alarms, it just brings back a lot of memories that aren’t the best,” she said.

She was terrified her pets were in danger when they were trying to make it back. Thankfully, her building wasn’t the one on fire, but this fire was more challenging for crews to get a handle on.

“Most of that fire that we were dealing with was in the attic, and when it’s in the attic, it’s not like you can walk into a room and put water on the fire,” said Brett Anderson, the Deputy Fire Marshal with the Spokane Valley Fire Department. “You have to work real hard to get to it, so that’s why it took a little longer than normal.”

No residents died in the fire, and a cat and dog were saved. Firefighters say the fire started from the third floor balcony, but the cause is still unknown. An investigation is now underway to determine what sparked the flames.

Sara’s thankful everyone made it out alive and knows the residents will band together to move forward.

“Just be prepared because it’s very devastating,” she said. “I feel bad, but as a community, we’ll come together.”

PAST COVERAGE: Firefighters battle Spokane Valley apartment fire