A fire that destroyed a Clearwater Avenue eye care clinic early Saturday caused at least $500,000 in damages, according to preliminary estimates.
Firefighters from five districts spent several hours battling the blaze at Kennewick Vision Care. The fire caused extensive damage to the building as well as to the equipment inside, fire officials said.
A cause hasn’t been determined, but foul play is not suspected.
“All the doors were secure; (firefighters) had to force all the doors with their tools,” said Deputy Fire Marshal Joe Terpenning with the Kennewick Fire Department.
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Pieces of specialized eye equipment were destroyed. However, the clinic’s doctors said that most of their patients’ records are digital and should be recoverable.
“In the old days, we would have lost everything,” said optometrist Kevin Ayers.
Fire crews from Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Benton County and Hanford arrived at the business at 3700 W. Clearwater Ave., about 2:30 a.m. A neighboring business reported the fire, officials said.
The blaze appears to have started in an office on the northeast side of the building. It reportedly blew out a window, and then the flames climbed up the outside of the building.
“The attic was fully involved when we got there,” Terpenning said.
Nearby homes were evacuated, but Terpenning said no other structures were damaged and no one was hurt.
Terpenning said the building’s burglar alarm went off at the same time as when the fire was called in. He said fires can set off the alarms because the gusts of air they create can trip motion detectors.
Ayers and fellow optometrist Jim Kintner said they plan to rebuild at the site but are working to find a temporary space for their clinic. They urged the clinic’s customers to go to their website at www.mykvc.com or the Kennewick Vision Care Facebook page.
Photographer Kai-Huei Yau contributed to this report.