Structure fires down this year in Yakima - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Structure fires down this year in Yakima

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YAKIMA, Wash.-- Yakima firefighters had less on their plate where structure fires are concerned compared to last year.

Large blazes like the Monastery Complex Fire on Satus Pass and the fire in White Swan took up much of the attention.

Usually, firefighters respond to about 130 structure fires every year, but the number for 2011 so far is only 96.

Firefighters say differences between years are pretty common.

"It's just very subjective. I mean, they come in spurts, we may get an influx next year and it may be over what we normally experience, and then, as opposed to this year it's down."> says Yakima Fire Captain Brandon Dorenbush.

He says there are many variables that may have influence the amount of fires.

"It's just a matter of whether the hazards exist or not, and... You know, whether or not the preventions working or the inspections are working or the investigations are doing what they're supposed to do," he says.

Inspections are on the line for the new year. The 2012 city budget cut a fire inspector position out.

That one position was responsible for nearly four thousand inspections a year on commercial businesses, helping prevent fires.

"It's something that stops all these violations or these hazards in the early stages," says Code Manager Joe Caruso.

Caruso says he thinks it will lead to more work for the fire department, and Dorenbush says that's a possibility.

"If the hazards are created then that creates potential for fires and so there is that possibility that we could be taxed even more so with the limited amount of resources we have," says Dorenbush.

Those inspections include a number of different types of buildings like schools, restaurants, and hotels.

The lack of inspections will also likely affect insurance for downtown businesses as well.

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