Washington Man Burned Alerting Neighbors to Flee a Fire Ravaging Their Apartments


KENNEWICK — A man was waking up his neighbors when he was burned in a devastating apartment fire.

Cammie Starney told the Herald her daughter's boyfriend ran to neighboring apartments as the flames spread early Wednesday.

He, along with a child, were hurt as flames ravaged the fourplex, leaving 16 people without a home and killing several pets. He was treated for his burns and the child was treated for smoke inhalation.

Passersby noticed smoke in the neighborhood around Buchanan Street just after midnight and called 911, Kennewick Fire Chief Chad Michael said.

When a battalion chief arrived flames were shooting out the apartment building's roof.

People inside the fourplex managed to get outside. In one of the GoFundMe campaigns that cropped up after the fire.

"If it wasn't for their neighbor, they wouldn't have made it out," said Maria Vazquez, the GoFundMe organizer.

One dog was found dead outside and several other pets are believed to have died inside, Michael said.

Kennewick firefighters were helped by the Richland Fire Department and Benton County Fire District 1 in battling the blaze. The firefighters were able to keep the flames to one side of the building so it wouldn't spread to other apartment buildings in the neighborhood.

The fire caused the roof to collapse, leaving three of the units severely damaged and the building unstable. It also destroyed a minivan and an pickup truck parked nearby.

Fire crews pulled some items out before the fire spread, but many of the residents escaped only with the clothes they were wearing.

Along with Vazquez's family, another GoFundMe has been set up for the man who helped neighbors.

Vazquez said the fire had reached her son and daughter's apartment by the time they and their children escaped. They weren't able to save their dog. And the fire also destroyed their van.

The other GoFundMe was created for the family in the bottom apartment. The organizer, Maranda Jayne Martin, said any donation is welcome.

Officials are still investigating what caused the fire.

The area surrounding the home was littered with fireworks packaging, but Michael didn't know if fireworks were connected.

Sixteen adults and children lived in the fourplex. The American Red Cross was called to help, and people who needed temporary help received it.

The neighborhood has been a focal point for department efforts to get smoke detectors into apartments, Michael said. This came after an neighboring apartment building on Cleveland Street caught fire last year in a cooking fire.