Officials dig for cause of Kennewick home blaze

KENNEWICK — Fire investigators are sifting through the rubble of a Kennewick home that was gutted Sunday by a fast-moving fire.

They know the fire started in the living room, but they still are trying to determine what sparked it, said Kennewick Fire Marshal Mark Yaden.

The family living in the house at 19th Avenue and Union Street was at church when the fire started, Yaden said.

No one was injured. Damage is estimated at around $300,000, with most of the home's contents destroyed. There was fire and damage in the general living area, and heavy heat and soot damage throughout the rest of the house, Yaden said.

The fire caused the living room window to break, which caught the attention of several motorists driving by, Yaden said.

"It's very fortunate the residents were gone and off to church and out of harm's way," he said. "It was a very fast-moving fire."

It took about 20 minutes for firefighters to get the blaze under control. About six Kennewick Fire Department units with 20 firefighters and an engine from Benton Fire District 1 responded.

"They did a great job. It's a big home and they had a lot of fire in it," Yaden said. "It spread from the living room to the attic but they were able to get that out promptly."

Fire officials are investigating whether an electrical issue was to blame, he said. There were several electronic items in the area where the fire started.

Investigators sifted through some of the debris Monday and expect to be back inside the home Wednesday with an insurance company investigator, Yaden said.

"At this point there's nothing to indicate or lead us to believe the fire was suspicious in nature," he said. "We've still yet to determine exactly what happened."

3 arrested in suspected attempted motor theft

WEST RICHLAND — Three suspected thieves who tried to steal a boat motor were thwarted by a West Richland resident who had welded the motor to his boat, police said.

The owner already had lost one boat motor to thieves this year so he took extra steps to keep it secured, said West Richland Sgt. Scott Bravo.

Around 2:30 a.m. Monday, the resident, who lives near Sunshine Avenue and Kilawea Drive, reported his boat had been prowled and several items had been taken.

Responding officers contacted three suspects -- Dennis Travis, 22, Clifton Steelman, 25, and a 17-year-old girl -- and found them with stolen property, Bravo said.

Officers determined the suspects had cut the wires and removed the brackets from the boat motor, but couldn't remove it because it had been welded on, he said.

Investigators also suspect the trio had prowled another boat before they were arrested.

They could face charges of vehicle prowl and third-degree theft, Bravo said.

Anyone who had their vehicle or boat damaged or prowled is encouraged to report the incidents to West Richland police through the nonemergency dispatch line at 628-0333.

* Paula Horton: 509-582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com