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Fire scorches Richland home

Regina Rees was working at her second part-time nursing job early Saturday morning when she got the kind of call no one wants -- a neighbor telling her that her house was on fire.

A fire would be bad enough for most people, but for Rees and her daughter, it was the third incident in what now feels to them like a string of bad luck that won't end.

Her daughter, Sabrina Christensen, 16, has autism and severe scoliosis, and the thing that most helps Sabrina cope with a world that often can be overwhelming is her love of horses.

Sabrina was devastated when her beloved 8-year-old horse became ill and had to be euthanized June 18.

A week later, a pipe burst in the house the mother and daughter occupy on Perkins Avenue in Richland and they had to move in temporarily with Rees' parents, who own the Perkins Avenue house, while the house was under repair.

On Saturday, they lost many of their personal belongings -- including Sabrina's collection of toy Breyer horses -- in the fire.

Richland firefighters were dispatched at 7:58 a.m. and put out the fire by 8:07 a.m., but the house already had suffered significant damage.

"It's been a tough 11/2 months," said Rees, who has been battling pneumonia for about a week.

One bright spot in recent weeks was Sabrina's adoption of a 19-year-old horse named Charmer, who has helped ease some of the pain from the loss of Sprocket. Sabrina was profiled in the Herald on July 15 after adopting Charmer from the rescue group Spot-O-Faith Farm.

But Sabrina's autism means she needs stability and routine, and the recent upheaval has been difficult, Rees said.

"She's scared and upset," Rees told the Herald. "She has been out of her routine for a month. This is even more devastating for her."

Richland fire Battalion Chief James Hempstead said Richland's fire marshal and police department are investigating the cause of the fire.

He credited Benton Fire District 4 and Hanford Fire Department units for helping put the fire out so quickly.

To help, call Rees at 727-5631.

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