An early morning fire heavily damaged a U.S. Department of Agriculture building at Washington State University's Prosser campus on Wednesday.
The fire started about 3:30 a.m. in the building at 24106 N. Bunn Road and was spotted by a police officer.
Chief Doug Merritt with Benton Fire District 3 said firefighters were initially limited to fighting the flames from outside the building because of a fallen power line. It took about 30 minutes to extinguish.
About a quarter of the 20-foot by 60-foot structure collapsed and the rest was damaged by fire, smoke and water.
The building was part of the USDA's Agricultural Research Services' Vegetable and Forage Crops Research Laboratory in Prosser, said Jose Louis Sanchez, administrative officer for Agricultural Research Services.
The fire seems to have started in a room used to grind plant material for research, Sanchez said. The building also included offices, a small repair shop and a work preparation area.
"Fortunately no employees were injured or were in the building at the time of the fire," Sanchez said.
About 12 firefighters, including crews from Benton Fire District 2, help put out the fire.
The cause of the blaze is still under investigation by the Benton County Sheriff's Office, which sent an investigator to the site Wednesday, Merritt said.
Three employees who work in the facility will work in temporary quarters, Sanchez said.
Bomb squad destroys pipe bomb
The Richland Bomb Squad safely detonated a pipe bomb in the 800 block of South Juniper Street in Kennewick late Tuesday.
Kennewick police were called about 10 p.m. after a citizen said a pipe bomb and some narcotics equipment were found while going through the belongings of a relative who recently died.
The bomb squad used a robot to move the device and detonate it in a field.