A Kennewick family scrambled to safety Wednesday morning as a garage fire spread quickly, consuming much of their two-story home.
Fred and Kathie Buck, their son, Jason Buck, and his wife, Nicole, who’s expecting a baby, got outside before the house was engulfed in flames. Fire crews arrived about 7 a.m.
The family’s black Labrador, Luke, fled the house, but was rounded up by a neighbor and firefighters. They also rescued a pet rabbit.
“(The dog) did try to go back in, and we got him out,” said Kennewick fire inspector Brian Ellis.
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One firefighter was taken to Trios Southridge Hospital in Kennewick to be treated for heat exhaustion. He was treated and later released.
Fred Buck was using a small hand-held torch on a project he was working on in his garage before the fire started. He told the Herald that he shut it off, set it down and went upstairs for a cup of coffee.
When he first heard the smoke alarm, he thought it might be false. When it continued, he rushed downstairs to check.
“The flames were shooting away in that short of time,” he said.
He first tried to use a hose, but the line kinked and not enough water flowed, he said.
Firefighters were able to hold the blaze to one side of the house at 3112 S. Everett Street, but the fire was so intense on the other side that part of the roof collapsed. Ellis estimated the damage at $100,000 to $200,000.
Kennewick fire crews were helped by the Benton Public Utility District, Benton Fire District 1 and the city’s police, public works and water departments. Fire officials said they are still investigating the exact cause of the blaze.
They’ve got plenty of people loving them ... It’s going to be their turn to receive for a while.
Neighbor Thora Trumbo
Neighbor John Trumbo, a Kennewick city councilman, got word of the fire when Fred Buck called him and said, “When you come, bring marshmallows.”
Trumbo and his wife, Thora, described the Bucks as “very giving people” who spend much of their time saving and gathering furniture to sell or provide for other citizens in need.
After losing all her possessions and her house Wednesday, Kathie Buck was seen harvesting vegetables in her garden and giving her produce away to firefighters and a nearby family in need.
“That’s the kind of people we’re talking about,” Trumbo said.
The Trumbos plan to help in any way they can, including putting the family up at their home. Other friends and neighbors have volunteered to help as well.
“They can stay with us,” Thora Trumbo said. “They’ve got plenty of people loving them. ... It’s going to be their turn to receive for a while.”
Fred Buck accepted the Trumbos’ offer to stay with them for two days, and will look into a hotel until they find other arrangements, he said.
All he wants in the meantime is a property to rent with an open yard, so his dog can run around.
“My dog’s probably suffered the worst,” he said.
All the other stuff is going to burn eventually anyway, so what good is it? Focus on the things that won’t burn.
Fred Buck, homeowner
Another neighbor, Tom Kent, said his wife, Sharon, called him to come home from work when she heard about the fire.
“She said the house is on fire, so I came running back,” he said.
The tragedy brought back memories for Kent — his family’s 150-year-old home in Chatham, N.J., burned because of an old chimney when he was 17.
He helped firefighters with water and electrical hookups in the area.
“This smell takes me back to when my house burned down,” he said.
Fred Buck said he recently spent $2,300 to install a fire alarm system in the house, and it worked.
More than anything, he’s thankful that his family’s safe.
“All the other stuff is going to burn eventually anyway, so what good is it?” he said. “Focus on the things that won’t burn.”