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Fire destroys Post Falls homes

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | August 29, 2020 1:09 AM

POST FALLS — A three-alarm, wind-driven fire destroyed two Post Falls homes, damaged another, and came close to burning more structures late Friday afternoon.

“Obviously, everybody is very upset,” said Chris Way, Kootenai County Fire & Rescue fire chief. “There are total losses on both structures. But we’re thankful no one was hurt. Things can be replaced and people can’t.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Both multi-level homes destroyed were occupied but everyone got out safely.

“It is not suspicious at this point,” Way said.

Kim Degenstein owned one of the homes on North Kaniksu St. that was destroyed in the fire. He said his kids were home when they heard some noise, looked out back and saw their neighbor’s home was on fire.

He said they gathered together, ran out of the house, and in a matter of minutes, the blaze spread to his home.

“The wind blew it right over,” he said.

The Degensteins have lived there three years.

Kim Degenstein stood outside the home about 7 p.m. talking to others after the blaze was doused by firefighters.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” he said. “We don’t have a clue.”

He said the home was insured, but it didn’t provide comfort at that moment.

“As of tonight, we don’t have a place,” he said.

Way said the fire started in the south house and a wind blowing from the southwest took the flames into the next home.

That’s where firefighters stopped it.

"It burst through that house pretty quickly and we stopped it from hitting the next home,” he said.

The siding was melted off a third home, but the structure was not affected.

“By the time the first engine got on scene, the second house had already started on fire,” he said.

Way said the first call came in about 3:20 p.m. As soon as firefighters saw the column of smoke rising from the site and knew the wind conditions, a third alarm as called out.

At one point, 60 firefighters from Kootenai County, Coeur d’Alene, Northern Lakes, Timberlake, Spirit lake and Mica Kidd Island Fire District were battling the blaze, which was brought under control about 5 p.m. Many firefighters later sat together in a yard down the street, recovering from their efforts to control the blaze.

“We just made the decision we were going to be defensive,” Way said. “Both structures were going so much, we just couldn’t put anybody inside the structures and concentrated on the houses that weren’t on fire.”

A pile of items pulled from the homes — clothes, toys and a mattress, sat in the front yard. A charred vehicle was still parked in a garage.

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BILL BULEY/Press

Firefighters look over the scene of Friday's blaze on N. Kaniksu Street in Post Falls that destroyed two homes.

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A pile of items pulled from the Post Falls homes lost in the fire Friday rests in the front yard.

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Two firefighters check for hot spots Friday after two Post Falls homes were destroyed in a fire.

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BILL BULEY/Press

Two Post Falls homes were lost in a fire Friday night.

Way said firefighters would be on site hitting hot spots until about 10 p.m.

One local resident, as he was driving way, stopped and thanked a firefighter.
“You guys saved the whole neighborhood from going up,” he said.