Tri-City fire crews were kept scrambling Thursday afternoon with nearly back-to-back fire calls and strong winds that fueled the flames.
No one was hurt battling the fires, but a four-plex in Pasco likely is a total loss and a brush fire in Badger Canyon destroyed an irrigation pump house.
Pasco firefighters were dispatched around 2:20 p.m. to a fire in a four-plex at 12th Street and Yakima Avenue.
Crews found heavy smoke billowing from the roof and the fire already had made its way into the attic, Chief Bob Gear said.
Firefighters began an interior attack, but were forced to quickly retreat because the roof was unstable. They then had to fight the fire from near the door or just inside.
Dozens of neighbors and bystanders gathered to watch as flames broke through the roof and leaped in the sky. Heat radiating from the fire could be felt from across the street.
Winds around 20 mph with gusts up to 26 mph hampered firefighters' efforts, but crews had it under control by 4 p.m. They still were at the scene a couple hours later mopping up and making sure hotspots were out, Gear said.
"High wind made it difficult, especially with a fire in the attic," he said. "It's just like blowing on the bottom of a campfire."
Everyone was able to get out of the building before crews arrived, but 10 people were displaced and were being helped by the Red Cross, Gear said. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.
The fire started in the kitchen of one of the units and initially was believed to be from cooking, but the residents said they weren't cooking at the time and investigators found no evidence of cooking, Gear said.
"We're not sure what went wrong," he said.
Firefighters from Kennewick and Benton Fire District 1 crossed the river to help Pasco crews, but the Fire District 1 crew wasn't able to stay long after a wildfire started burning brush and threatening homes in Badger Canyon.
The brush fire was reported around 2:30 p.m. between Badger Canyon Road and Dallas Road, said Fire District 1 Capt. Devin Helland.
The fire was contained and under control around 5 p.m., but the cause and the number of acres burned was not immediately known. About a half-dozen power poles and a well pump house were burned.
Dozens of firefighters, including several wildland strike teams, were called in to help. Agencies at the scene included the Richland, Hanford and Prosser fire departments, Benton Fire District 2 (Benton City) and 4 (West Richland) and the Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Wind, steep terrain and access were big issues that made it difficult to get the blaze contained, Helland said.
Kelly O'Leary said her power flickered around 2:45 p.m., so she went outside to check on the irrigation well. That's when she saw smoke and flames headed her way. She called 911 but crews were already on the way.
"It was real quick. Had the wind been blowing the opposite way it probably would have been to the house," she said. "It was pretty scary because you just don't know. It's all sagebrush and it burns quickly."
Flames burned to the edge of her pasture, but crews used a tractor to carve out a barrier that kept the fire away, O'Leary said. The irrigation pump house that burned was about a half-mile from the house.
O'Leary said she still had water to the house, but she was not sure how long they would have to go without irrigation water for their 5-acre pasture.