Burning piles of slashed trees left unattended Wednesday in an orchard in Benton City most likely caused propane and fuel to explode inside a shed, burning it to the ground, a fire official said.
No one was injured in the fire, which burned about 40 feet from a house at 4707 W. Corral Creek Rd., Benton Fire District 2 Chief Ron Duncan said. Firefighters responded at 2:57 p.m. and had the blaze under control within 25 minutes.
A neighbor had been burning the slash piles since around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, Duncan said. Rueben Canales owns the orchard and could face a penalty for reckless burning.
A resident heard popping noises while sleeping and came outside to see the shed fully engulfed in flames, Duncan said.
Orchard equipment, trailers and small amounts of herbicides and pesticides were in the shed, which the property owner described as old.
The fire also melted some parts of cars on the property, Duncan said.
Duncan said it was “highly likely” that the fire could have spread to the house if the fire department hadn’t arrived as quickly as they did. A Benton County sheriff’s deputy was on scene about a minute after the call was dispatched.
There was no damage to the house and fire crews were still putting water on the smoldering shed as the large slash piles smoked nearby.
The sheriff’s office is still investigating the cause of the fire and what role Canales’ slash piles played in it, Duncan said. Canales bought the property several years ago and was ripping up the trees in the orchard to plant new ones.
Units from Benton Fire District 2 and the Hanford Fire Department assisted Benton Fire District 1 with the blaze.