Eastern Washington Families Lose Everything After Fugitive Starts Fire During Standoff, Police Say


A 35-year-old woman is accused of burning a Kennewick apartment building during a standoff with Kennewick police.

Kayla Lyn Guzman, a transient, was wanted in five separate felony cases when one of the residents of the 111 McKinley Street apartment building let her stay with her, according to court documents.

She was wanted for a host of crimes in Benton, Franklin and Yakima counties stretching back to 2020. They included hit-and-run, attempting to elude police, possession of a stolen vehicle and felony theft.

Now she's also being held in the Benton County jail on suspicion of first-degree arson.

Bail was set at $250,000 on that case. She also has an outstanding case in Benton County for attempting to elude and hit-and-run which she is being held on $50,000 bail.

Police received a tip about Guzman staying at the apartment about 11 a.m. on Sunday. Officers surrounded the apartment building and then knocked on the door.

After getting the renter, Patricia Reyes and her children, out, they learned Guzman was in the shower.

Reyes gave police permission to go inside the home. Officers began making announcements at the door that she was under arrest. When they didn't get a response, police started going inside.

"Once reaching the hallway, announcements were again given and after a few minutes once officers began moving down the hallway, a female voice was heard yelling through the bedroom door 'if you come in here I'll shoot,'" Kennewick Officer Avery Smith wrote in his affidavit.

Once the threat was made, officers backed out.

Shortly after getting a search warrant, police started smelling and seeing smoke coming from the apartment's bedroom. Officers then spotted Guzman in the neighboring apartment through the window.

Guzman still refused to come out. Tri-City Regional SWAT was called in and eventually arrested her in the kitchen in the other home.

Fire investigators are still working to determine the cause of the blaze.

Kennewick firefighters were initially called to help with the standoff shortly before 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.

When the smoke started, firefighters were called to the scene. Everyone inside the apartment except for Guzman had been evacuated before the fire started, according to court documents.

The blaze destroyed Reyes' apartment and her neighbor's home, Deputy Fire Chief Michael Heffner said. The two lower apartments were water damaged.

The property owner was still assessing the damage, and two families have reached out through GoFundMe looking for help after the fire left them without clothes, and killed pets.

A fundraiser to help a mother and her three children was started by Steve Wallace. The woman, only identified as Shay, and children ages 7, 5 and 4, lost "every blanket, stuffed animal and toy" in the fire.

They need shelter, food, water and basic necessities, he said.

"Shay is a single mother who goes through enough as it is on a daily basis and now lost the comfort that comes in a home," Wallace wrote. "I ask that you please help her get back on her feet and show her that community is a real thing and something she can rely on."

Donations can be made at bit.ly/ShayFundraiser.

Emilly Reyes also started a fundraiser for her mother and six siblings who were living at the apartment. They also lost everything, including their pets.

"I am asking for help with expenses to help clothe, feed and provide a safe place for them to stay," she wrote. "No amount is too small, and everything is greatly appreciated."

The family is looking for extra large and large women's clothing, and large men's clothing. They are also looking for girls size 12 to 14 clothing.

The fundraiser is available at bit.ly/ReyesFire.