Torch might have had role in Benton City 4-plex fire

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldNovember 16, 2012 

Fire officials in Benton City will investigate what sparked a blaze Wednesday night at a four-plex.

Preliminary information, however, indicates that heat from a torch for renovation work in a vacant unit likely caused the fire, said Benton Fire District 2 Capt. Bill Reed.

Residents in the three other units of the building at 717 S. Eighth St. escaped unharmed when the fire broke out just after 7:30 p.m.

The fire started in a wall and got into the attic space, Reed said. When the first crews got on scene, flames were shooting through the roof.

It took about 20 minutes for crews to get the flames under control, he said.

"Attic fires are kind of a challenge; everything is either overhead or right below you," Reed said. "But the guys went in, pulled some ceiling, got access to it really quick and snuffed it out."

Firefighters from Benton Fire District 1, 3 and 4 helped at the scene.

There was "very minimal" fire damage to the apartments, but the roof was compromised, and residents aren't able to stay in the building because power was shut off, he said.

There also was some water damage throughout the building, but residents should be able to salvage their property.

The residents were able to go into the building temporarily Wednesday night to get some personal belongings, Reed said. The property owner then put his tenants up overnight in a hotel.

Volunteers with the Benton Franklin chapter of the American Red Cross were expected to meet with the residents Thursday.

There were no injuries to firefighters or tenants.

-- Paula Horton: 582-1556;

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