Spokane Valley deputy runs into flames to rescue residents of burning house

Spokane Valley deputy runs into flames to rescue residents of burning house
Spokane Valley deputy runs into flames to rescue residents of burning house

Joseph Cross was awakened by the shrill sound of his smoke alarm around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday. When he came out of his bedroom, his living room was filled with smoke and his porch was on fire.

At about the same time, Deputy T. Ball was driving on I-90 when he noticed the fire from the porch, according to a news release from the Spokane Valley Sheriff’s Office.

As Ball drove into the trailer park, he heard the voices of Cross and Cross’s mother, who both lived in the house.

He activated his body camera, turned on his flashlight and climbed over the flames to search the smoke for people inside.

He found the Crosses and their pets inside and helped everyone get outside, the news release said. Body camera footage can be found on the Spokane Sheriff’s Office’s YouTube and Facebook.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department arrived on scene shortly thereafter and extinguished the fire, the press release said.

“Police officers and sheriff’s deputies do not have set guidelines when it comes to helping people out of a fire, but they rely on their best judgment to decide what is safest,” said Mark Gregory, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Gregory said Ball made the decision to help the two victims inside the home while maintaining his own safety, but it is not often that an officer enters a burning building to help residents escape.

“There’s nothing to suggest he had to go in. He looked at it and made the right decision,” Gregory said.

“He saw that the two people needed to get out and they couldn’t get out, so he put himself in danger to get them out.”

When firefighters respond to a fire, their top priority is to make sure everyone is safely out of their homes and away from the fire before putting out the flames, says Patrick Erickson, media relations manager for the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

Because Ball had already helped the victims outside their home, firefighters were able to extinguish the fire in less than 10 minutes, Erickson said.

Cross said neither he nor his mother were injured and their two dogs, two cats and two lizards were also rescued.

Although the fire department was able to extinguish the flames quickly, the house still suffered significant damage. The neighboring house was also damaged, the press release states.

“It’s not even worth fixing,” Cross said.

His mother is currently staying at her sister’s house, but Cross said he is sleeping in a tent next to the house.

“I’m freaking out inside,” he said.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, Erickson said.