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Fire in Wapato Destroys Church and Home


A place of worship and a family’s home were destroyed by flames Thursday on the 100 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Wapato.

Ernesto Ruiz was home when the fire started.

“I had woke up and seen a lot of smoke inside of my house and that’s what caught my attention,” said Ruiz. “I just had to run outside.”

Ernesto grabbed his dogs then watched with family and neighbors as the home he lived in all his life went down in flames.

“It was scary because it’s so close and all the smoke was over here and we inhaled it,” said neighbor Kassandra Blanco.

Firefighters say the wind carried the fire next door to the Berea Centro De Alabanza Church.

Crews from the Lower and Upper Valley responded to the fire that ripped through both buildings. They were able to save some of the church’s audio equipment.

“This is pretty bad having two separate structures involved. The church being a really good sized building, split level and with the temperatures, it’s really hard on our guys,” said Yakima County District 5 Captain JJ Ihnen.

A few firefighters got overheated in the scorching temperatures, but there were no serious injuries.

Now, Ernesto Ruiz and his family will likely have to start over.

“You’re just thinking, ‘oh where am I going to sleep now a days until they rebuild it,” said Ruiz.

Firefighters are still working to determine the cause of the blaze.

They don’t know where in the residence it started but will launch an investigation to determine whether any foul play is involved.

Thanks to KIMA Action News

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