Wapato fire destroys church and home - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Wapato fire destroys church and home

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Wapato, WASH.--A fire in Wapato Thursday destroyed a church and a home, leaving a family and congregation without a place to go.

Francisco Ruiz was on his way home from work when he noticed heavy smoke coming from his neighborhood.

"Well I saw the smoke and I got closer and I thought it was the church on fire, but then realized it was both of them," said Ruiz.

Ruiz's home and Berea Centro De Alabanza church on the 100 block of Lincoln Avenue were destroyed in the fire. Around 45 firefighters battled the blazes for roughly five hours. Crews said the fire started in the south entrance of the home, but the cause is still under investigation.

"We're unsure of what caused it," said Chief Santos Valdez of the Wapato Fire Department. "There doesn't seem to be any ignition sources in that area so we're still checking."

Ruiz said, "Everything's burned or smoked. Just a bad odor. We didn't get nothing out of it."

Firefighters said the fire was pretty large for a small town like Wapato. Ruiz said nothing in his home is salvageable.

"Right now it's just day by day," said Ruiz. "There's nothing else we can do."

No injuries were reported. Firefighters estimate the total cost of damages to be around $400,000 between the two buildings.

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