Post Falls fire deemed suspicious

Blaze destroys two mobile homes in park being shut down

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POST FALLS - The fire that destroyed two mobile homes on Saturday night at a Post Falls park that's being shut down is believed to be suspicious, according to investigators.

The homes at the El Rancho Mobile Home Park at the northwest corner of Highway 41 and Mullan Avenue were vacant, said Shaena Dunn, Kootenai County Fire and Rescue spokeswoman.

No injuries were reported.

Dunn said there have been problems of vandalism and theft in recent days at the park.

"We don't know how the fire started, but it's being called suspicious because nobody was there, the gas was off and no appliances were plugged in," Dunn said.

Dunn said the home where the fire started - No. 60 - sustained vandalism damage about a week ago.

No arrests have been made.

"As far as we know, no one was seen leaving the buildings," Dunn said.

The fire at the 50-year-old park at 3957 E. Mullan Ave. was reported at 6:28 p.m.

When a Kootenai County deputy arrived, the home where the fire started was engulfed in flames. Nearby residents were evacuated from their homes as a precaution.

KCFR will collaborate with the Kootenai County Sheriff's Office on the investigation.

Two other homes were threatened by the fire, but were spared by firefighters.

Coeur d'Alene Fire, Northern Lakes and Avista Utilities assisted KCFR in the incident.

Five or six spaces remain occupied at the 70-lot, 8.7-acre park despite residents earlier being told to move out by July 31. Other homes have either been moved or abandoned.

Residents were served a six-month park closure notice earlier this year.

Some of the tenants weren't able to move the structures because they are too old or the residents couldn't muster the estimated $4,500 moving cost.

If the home was built before June 15, 1976, under state law, it must go through a rehabilitation process, which can be cost-prohibitive in some cases.

The park site is considered prime commercial ground since it's at one of the busiest intersections in North Idaho.

Bob Kirkpatrick, who owned the property for 29 years, and RMM Investments sold it five years ago for $3.32 million to a group of developers/investors called 41 and Mullan Investments, LLC.

Last winter Vandervert Developments and five other partner investors parted ways and split their properties. FF, LLC acquired El Rancho.

Randall Probasco, a Coeur d'Alene attorney representing FF, LLC, couldn't be reached for comment on Monday.

Probasco earlier said the park's closure was due to the aging and deterioration of the park's infrastructure, which can lead to health issues. The park is also not adequate for new units, he said.

Plans for the site have not been announced.

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