Kennewick firefighters say hot coals may have started a fire that tore through a building at Lakeside Apartments early Thursday morning.
KENNEWICK, WA - Kennewick firefighters say hot coals may have started a fire that tore through a building at Lakeside Apartments early Thursday morning.
Firefighters evacuated 14 people from Building I, only hours after a first fire had broken out at the building. Firefighters say much of the building was badly damaged but the tenants all got out safely. Now many of them are picking up the pieces after losing everything in the flames.
"Everything we own is damaged. It's gone, it's just gone," said tenant Holly Caldercox.
The first of two fires broke out just before 9 o'clock Wednesday evening. Firefighters believe it started after a tenant put debris from a fireplace on a deck.
"That fire was mostly exterior. The crews at that time extinguished the fire very quickly and removed the ceiling from the attic space and cut the power to that unit--they left the scene just before midnight," said Chief Neil Hines, Kennewick Fire Department.
Three hours later firefighters were back at the same building battling a second fire that was quickly spreading.
"When we arrived, we were looking at 20-30 mile per hour winds that were pushing the fire in a heavily involved attic," Chief Hines said.
Tenants watched in disbelief as the second fire raged for more than three hours. Brandon Knotts was staying with a friend nearby after the first fire. He says his whole life was inside his apartment.
"Everything I've ever owned is now gone. Things that I've had since elementary school and now it's gone. It's a weird feeling," said tenant Brandon Knotts.
An emotion felt by many including Caldercox who just so happens to run Project Warm-Up, a local non-profit that helps people displaced by disasters. Except now Caldercox, along with eight other families, are the ones needing help.
Firefighters say the second fire may have been a result of the first one but they say it could take up to a week to determine if that's the cause. The Red Cross is helping the fourteen of the people affected by this fire, supplying them with temporary housing, food, clothing and medical items.
Anyone affected by the fire who still needs help should call 509-539-6078.