YAKIMA – Firefighters have contained a four-alarm fire in a large storage facility and are working to put out the remaining hot spots, Yakima fire officials say.
About two-thirds of the building, home to about 200 5-by-7-foot storage vaults, has been destroyed in the fire that started at 9 a.m. Sunday morning.
A firewall helped save the newer third of the building from fire damage, though it probably sustained some water damage, said Deputy Chief Mark Soptich of the Yakima Fire Department.
The fire was reported about 9 a.m. By 11 a.m., crews had the fire under control and were using two aerial trucks to spray the building from above, sending large plumes of smoke into the air.
Bernd Moving Systems, a partner of United Van Lines, is located at 660 North 18th Ave. Owners, Doug and Karen Bernd, were out of town when the blaze started. About 75 firefighters from stations as far as Toppenish were on the scene by 11 a.m., Soptich said. They brought 18 pieces of rolling equipment, such as the ladder and pump trucks.
The turning point in the fire was when crews were able to bring in a back-hoe from City of Yakima Public Works to tear a floor-to-ceiling hole in the east wall of the building. Before then, lack of access to the interior allowed the fire to burn hot and fast, tearing through ample fuel from the storage units.
Above the hole in the wall, the metal roof of the building had started to buckle, mostly from the heat of the fire, Soptich said.
The units mostly contained household goods.
“This is our busiest time of the year; everybody’s relocating in the summer,” said Dirk Bernd, the son of the facility’s owners.
By noon, crews were preparing to go back into the building. Fire officials began putting together an investigation to determine the fire’s cause.
The blaze was the third major structure fire in as many days.
The Bernd building was unoccupied, and a firefighter received a second-degree steam burn on his wrist, Soptich said.