Update: 4 units damaged in Kennewick apartment fire

Tri-City HeraldMarch 22, 2013 

— A Kennewick family escaped an early morning fire Friday that started in their second-floor apartment.

Brandi Pentecost awoke to the fire alarm around 4 a.m. in her home at the Cambridge Station Apartments at 215 S. Johnson St.

"I thought it was my alarm. I was like, ‘Already?!’” she said.

She said when she opened the door to the laundry area flames were beginning to engulf the room.

“I've never seen something so bright,” she said.

Pentecost woke up her boyfriend Edward Jackson, who is deaf, and her two daughters, ages 5 and 7 months old, to escape. Jackson called 911 and the couple woke up their neighbors in the three adjoining units.

The family was able to get outside before the fire spread, but they left behind their dog and tortoise, which died in the blaze.

No people were injured in the fire, which spread to four units, the Kennewick Fire Department said in a news release. Firefighters were able to control the fire in 30 minutes with the help from Benton Fire District 1, Richland Fire Department and the Kennewick Police Department, the release said.

Kennewick Fire Capt. Joe Terpenning said Pentecost’s apartment was destroyed, the unit next door suffered smoke damage and two downstairs units had water damage.

Pentecost said her family lost nearly all of their possessions. “It’s not even my house anymore,” she said.

Although they were able to salvage their baby’s crib, laptops and Xbox, the family feels lucky everyone made it out alive.

Jackson said he has never been able to hear the smoke alarm in the apartment and recently asked his landlord to install a strobe light alarm so he could see it in case of a fire. The landlord reportedly told Jackson she couldn’t accommodate his request for a strobe light detector and he would have to buy one on his own, he said.

“I didn’t make a big of it at first,” Jackson said. “But now it is a big deal. What if (Pentecost) would have been working the graveyard shift? It could of turned out differently.”

Dawn Cryan, whose company Jerry D. Abrams manages the 56-unit Cambridge Station, said the landlord was working with Jackson to get a new alarm and the alarm they had in the apartment was adequate.

“The truth of the matter is that (Jackson) is living with someone who can hear and (Pentecost) heard it,” she said. “The issue is the smoke detector worked and she was able to get her family out safely.”

Fire investigators are working to determine the fire’s cause and an examination of the laundry room will be included, the release said. Investigators will examine the room and the path of the fire for clues about its origin, the release said.

The American Red Cross is helping the displaced families.

The Kennewick Fire Department wants to warn all citizens to make sure their smoke detectors work properly and are maintained.

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @Ty_richardson

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