Cindy Mosley Cleary isn’t sure what the future holds for her business after a massive fire ripped through a building in downtown Kennewick on Friday.
“I know this is a loss, a waterlogged, collapsed ceiling,” she told the Herald in a Facebook post. “It was very devastating to watch.”
Her store, The Lady Bug Shoppe, offered an eclectic mix of new giftware and vintage goods and had been in business for five years on the first floor of the historic Cascade building.
All she can do now is look out the window, as it is not safe to enter the building from Kennewick Avenue and Cascade Street.
“We don’t know when or if we will have access for cleaning,” she said. “At the moment we don’t know what is needed besides thoughts and prayers.”
The store was one of five businesses closed by the two-alarm fire which is believed to have started around 5.30am on the second floor where six apartments are located.
Cleary took to Facebook on Friday to thank firefighters for helping the 10 people who live there.
“Keep these people in your hearts and prayers,” she said on Facebook. “While many of us have lost our businesses, they have lost their homes.”
Eight adults and two children fled the fire, including a man who was in critical condition with burns and smoke inhalation. officials said.
Lose it all
Cousins Renee Purser-Niezgoda and Gabrielle Pfannenstiel and their young children were two of the residents who rushed out of their rooms down a smoky hallway.
Pfannenstiel woke up screaming in the fire unit and went to wake up her cousin. They then grabbed their daughters and fled outside.
“We had enough time to run without shoes,” Purser-Niezgoda said. “The building is so old it went up like a matchbox.”
The two have little more than the clothes they wore.
Now they are shopping for clothes and worrying about finding housing as affordable as this apartment. Pfannenstiel moved there two or three years ago and Purser-Niezgoda had moved there weeks before.
“We’re just trying to collect as many resources as possible,” Purser-Niezgoda said. “We are trying to figure out what we can do here. That’s a lot to handle at once. We never had to go through the experience of losing everything all at once.
A fundraiser was organized on Facebook for Purser-Niezgoda.
Deputy Fire Chief Michael Heffner credited smoke alarms with alerting residents.
There were also reports of a man running from door to door trying to make sure everyone was out.
The injured man was exiting the building when firefighters arrived and rushed to hospital, he said.
Firefighters have yet to determine the cause of the fire. And the structural integrity of the building is still being assessed.
Air fire attack
The first teams arrived within 4 minutes and entered the building to check if anyone was trapped inside, but “extreme and dangerous” smoke and fire conditions forced them to retreat, Fire Chief Chad Michael said later in a news release.
A request for a second alarm brought help from Pasco, Richland and Benton County Fire District 1 firefighters and equipment.
And when they couldn’t fight the fire from inside, they worked with ladder trucks to spray large volumes of water from above onto the second floor.
“The building remained too dangerous to place firefighters in for the duration of the fire,” Michael said.
Other firefighters were assigned inside nearby buildings to prevent the fire from spreading to the rest of the block.
Immediately east of the Cascade Building is the Desert Gem & Appraisal Restaurant and Foodies Brick and Mortar.
Both were forced to close on Friday because electricity and other utilities had to be cut as firefighters battled the blaze. Foodies announced on social media that they were closed indefinitely and encouraged customers to visit their Richland restaurant.
About 2.5 hours later, they brought the fire under control and monitored it for several more hours to prevent it from igniting.
Consequences of a fire
Other businesses on the first floor affected are Neil Wilson Insurance Agency, Squeaky Clean Concierge Service, Ashiatsu Massage and The Social Club Salon.
Between the American Red Cross, the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership and family and friends, everyone caught up in the fire was able to find temporary shelter.
As businesses and people pick up the pieces, the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership has begun working to organize fundraising efforts for those affected.
Stephanie Button, executive director of the partnership, said they were creating an aid fund that people could donate to. Their money will go directly to those affected.
“So many people have asked how they can help,” she said. “They’re our neighbours. It’s a really intimately connected downtown.
She said it would take some time for businesses and people involved in the fire to recover. For now, businesses are contacting their insurance companies and residents have found temporary shelter.
“I know there’s a lot of shock,” she said. “As for building 300 (block), it is utter devastation. It will take time to recover. »
Some people have started private fundraisers, including one on Facebook set up for a resident of the apartments.
This story was originally published February 5, 2022 1:45 p.m.