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2 families homeless after Finley blaze

Two Finley families are homeless but unharmed after an early morning Thursday fire destroyed their mobile homes.

The fire apparently started on the porch of a double-wide home in Kelley's Estates, 218406 Highway 397.

High winds then spread the flames to a neighbor's single-wide home, said Benton Fire District 1 Capt. Jeff Ripley.

"Between the radiant heat, flames and embers going that way, it was a foregone conclusion the second trailer would catch fire. But we saved all the others around them, and no one was hurt," said Benton Fire District 1 Capt. Devin Helland.

The fire was reported at 4:08 a.m. Helland said the double-wide was fully engulfed when the first fire units arrived just minutes after the call. The second home also was on fire.

"Unfortunately, the winds really drove that fire," Helland said.

The double-wide was destroyed, and the single-wide was heavily damaged in the two-alarm blaze.

Maria Padilla and her husband, Mario Quinones, bought their single-wide mobile home barely three months ago.

They and their four children -- ages 15, 12, 7 and 1 -- were asleep when the fire started.

"I heard a noise, a banging on the wall next to the bed. I feel it was God telling me to get up," she said.

Padilla hurried to the living room, where she saw an orange-reddish light coming from the living room window.

"I opened the curtains and could see the flames," she said. "The trailer next door was burning. So were the trees and bushes between our neighbor's trailer and ours. I was scared. I began screaming at Mario to get the baby out. I woke up my other kids, and we all ran out," she said.

The family escaped with only what they had on. Padilla and a daughter were barefoot, and her son wore only his underwear.

They have no homeowner's insurance, and Padilla and her husband are both unemployed right now.

Fire officials said the family living in the double-wide mobile home also made it out safely. Their names were not available, but neighbors said three people lived in the home.

The Red Cross is helping the families.

Crews from Kennewick, Richland and Benton Fire District 4 helped fight the fire.

Firefighters had to use water from fire trucks because the fire hydrants in the neighborhood are turned off in the winter, Ripley said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Benton County Sheriff's Department.

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