Firefighter hurt trying to save family’s belongings from burning West Richland home

A West Richland mom and her kids ran from their home as it went up in flames Monday morning.

The fire at 3900 Jenny Lake Drive — near the roundabout at Bombing Range and Keene roads — is believed to have started on the back deck.

Flames then broke a window and spread throughout the triple-wide manufactured home and up into the attic, said Chief Bill Whealan of Benton County Fire District 4.

The fire-weakened roof appeared close to collapse, preventing firefighters from fighting the blaze from inside the house or from the roof.

About 25 firefighters responded from District 4, the Richland and Kennewick fire departments and Benton fire districts 1 and 2.

The homeowner was sleeping when she heard glass breaking and thought there might be a burglar trying to get in. She went to investigate, saw an orange glow outside, and grabbed her kids and dog to get out, said Whealan.

Her husband had left for work a little earlier, he said. The family had just recently moved in.

Falling debris

While the family escaped without injury, one firefighter was hit on the head by falling debris.

The firefighter was treated at a Tri-City hospital for the minor injury, released later Monday and sent home, said Whealan.

Crews had been trying to salvage what they could of the family’s belongings since they knew the roof was going to come down and significantly damage the property.

So firefighters grabbed clothing and other things within reaching of the doors and windows, he said.

That’s when the debris fell on the firefighter.

A tractor then was used to pull off the roof, which helped firefighters make sure the fire in the attic was out before they could go inside, said Whealan.

Crews were at the home into Monday afternoon. Then Benton County Coroner Bill Leach, a volunteer fire investigator, started looking for the cause but cannot definitively pinpoint the origin because of the heavy fire damage.

Whealan said they suspect it started on the patio near some barbecues. The home is a complete loss.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.