12 families displaced in cold snap as Tri-Cities homes and apartments burn this weekend

Firefighters fought four residential fires and an apartment complex fire in the Tri-Cities from Friday through early Monday as temperatures dropped to as low as 2 degrees.

Two people in the 8-plex were taken to a hospital for evaluation after inhaling smoke, one dog died and residents of at least 11 apartment units or homes were displaced.

How unusually cold weather for the Tri-Cities, Wash., may have contributed to most of the fires has not yet been made public as investigations into the cause of the fires continue.

The cold weather challenged firefighters as they worked on icy ground and took steps to prevent hose lines, pumps, breathing air bottles and equipment from freezing, according to a release from Pasco Fire Chief Kevin Crowley.

Kennewick fire crews faced severe cold temperatures while fighting a house fire on West Seventh Avenue early Sunday.
Kennewick fire crews faced severe cold temperatures while fighting a house fire on West Seventh Avenue early Sunday.

Ben Franklin Transit provided a warming bus for firefighters at the Pasco fire Friday at the 8-unit apartment complex at 1907 W. Jay St., he said.

At the three Kennewick fires water from fire hoses immediately turned to ice when it hit concrete and asphalt in weather as cold as 3 degrees, said Kennewick Fire Chief Chad Michael in a statement.

Kennewick houses caught fire early Saturday and Sunday mornings and a mobile home fire started in Kennewick early Monday morning.

Firefighters for Benton Fire District 1 also responded to an additional mobile home fire in Kennewick Saturday.

Kennewick Monday fire

Two adults and a toddler escaped a burning mobile home near the blue bridge in Kennewick shortly after 1 a.m. Monday, Michael said in a release.

They saw smoke in the single-wide home at 812 W. Klamath Ave. and then discovered smoke coming from the dryer in the laundry room.

A mobile home in Kennewick caught fire early Monday morning.
A mobile home in Kennewick caught fire early Monday morning.

Kennewick firefighters put out the fire in 20 minutes, but then spent more time looking for and extinguishing smoldering materials underneath the mobile home.

There were no working fire alarms in the home, according to Michael.

The family took shelter in their car as firefighters worked in 10 degree weather.

The Kennewick Police Department Foundation gave the family gift cards for food and clothing, and the American Red Cross was contacted to provide additional short-term help.

Kennewick Sunday fire

Firefighters were called to a small house on fire at 3312 W. Seventh Ave. in Kennewick about 1:20 a.m. Sunday.

Smoke was coming from the first and second floors and eaves of the house, according to Michael.

There were no working smoke alarms at the house at 3312 W. Seventh Ave., in Kennewick when a fire broke out early Sunday morning
There were no working smoke alarms at the house at 3312 W. Seventh Ave., in Kennewick when a fire broke out early Sunday morning

Two adults in the house heard a popping sound and then found the fire in a bedroom on the first floor of the house. They tried to use a fire extinguisher, but it did not discharge.

They thought they had working smoke alarms but none were heard.

Fighting the fire was a challenge because there was no access to the second floor from inside the house and the house was crowded with belongings, Michael said.

The Kennewick Police Department kept the two people who escaped the fire warm in a police car, and a fire chaplain contacted the Red Cross to find them temporary shelter, food and clothing.

Kennewick Saturday fire

The other Kennewick house fire was just before 2 a.m. Saturday at 2620 W. Seventh Ave. as the temperature dropped to 3 degrees.

Three adults inside the house said they smelled what they described as an “odd odor,” according to a release from Michael.

A firefighter works inside the house that burned at 2620 W. Seventh Ave., Kennewick
A firefighter works inside the house that burned at 2620 W. Seventh Ave., Kennewick

They discovered a fire in the kitchen and all left the house. However, a dog died from smoke inhalation.

The house had no working smoke alarm, according to Michael.

Benton Fire District 1 fire

A single-wide mobile home was damaged in a fire reported to Benton County Fire District 1 about 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

Residents at 2627 Myrtle St., Kennewick, were using a space heater to try to thaw pipes, which caused a fire under the house, said Jenna Kochenauer, spokesperson for the district.

Both residents, one who uses a wheelchair, got out of the home safely.

Although damage to the home was not extensive, the home had no water and the Red Cross was called to help the residents.

Pasco apartment fire

The fire about 11:20 a.m. Friday at 1907 W. Jay St. in Pasco burned or damaged several units in one of the 8-unit buildings there.

All residents were out of the building when firefighters arrived, according to Crowley.

The fire started in one of the bedrooms there, according to dispatch reports.

Pasco firefighters work to put out a fire in a Jay Street apartment building after it sent people inside out into the cold.
Pasco firefighters work to put out a fire in a Jay Street apartment building after it sent people inside out into the cold.

Firefighters spent two hours getting the fire under control with temperatures at 10 degrees and a wind chill of below 0.

Power was shutoff to all eight apartments in the building, and those families had to relocate.

The Franklin County Chaplaincy and the Red Cross helped four of the families find a place to stay.

Tips from Tri-Cities fire chiefs

During the current extreme cold temperatures, care should be taken with portable heaters and wood burning stoves and fireplaces.

Flammable items should be kept at least three feet away from them and they should not be left unattended. That includes turning off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.

Furnaces also should have no flammable items within three feet.

Heating equipment and chimneys should be cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and just outside sleeping areas. Every level of the home, including the basement, should have a smoke alarm. They should be tested at least once a month.

Interconnected smoke alarms are best so that when one smoke alarm sounds, they all sound.

The risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.

Closed doors slow the spread of fire. Sleep with bedroom doors closed.