By BRIAN WALKER
POST FALLS — An investigation has determined that a fire that damaged two Post Falls homes last week appears to be accidental.
"It was believed to be caused by improperly discarded rags in a plastic garbage can that had been used for staining wood," Kootenai County Fire and Rescue Chief Warren Merritt said Monday.
The homes at 1018 and 1020 N. Nellie Court off Idaho Street near Super 1 Foods were damaged after 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
"Five residents were displaced from the two homes," Merritt said, referring to four adults and one child. "Both families had parents in the area to stay with."
There were no injuries to occupants or firefighters. A damage estimate had not been determined as of Monday. Both homes were insured.
"The resident at 1020 Nellie Court notified the residents (at 1018), who had already gone to bed," Merritt said, adding that the fire started on the 1018 property.
The fire caused major structural damage to the garages, attics, bedrooms and utility rooms of both homes.
"The fire was brought under control in about 20 minutes," Merritt said.
Fire crews first initiated an aggressive exterior fire attack on both residences and the area between both homes where a pickup, travel trailer, a small utility trailer and construction materials were destroyed. The pickup was at the 1018 address while the trailers were at the 1020 address.
"Once the fire was knocked down between the homes, firefighters entered both homes," Merritt said.
The chief said quick collaboration between KCFR, the Northern Lakes Fire District, Coeur d'Alene and Hauser Lake prevented the fire from becoming much larger.
"I am very proud of the suppression efforts," Merritt said.
Post Falls Police assisted with the investigation.
A total of 24 personnel staffing six engines, three paramedic ambulances and four chief officers responded to the fire.