500 homes in Yakima County don't have emergency fire services

500 homes in Yakima County don't have emergency fire services »Play Video

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash.-- A White Swan home might have been saved if firefighters were allowed to go there. The family smelled smoke, but was forced to stand by as the home burned to the ground. It turns out the home was out of the boundaries of a fire district. They never knew it.  

Donald Isadore had no idea his family was living in "no man's land". Their White Swan home fell outside of any fire district boundaries. The family has been there since the 80's, never knowing they were so exposed to danger.

"As you can see, the home burned down totally to the ground," Isadore said. "So, the family that stayed here is now homeless."

Family members called 911 begging for help as the fire took over. But Fire District 5 was not legally allowed to respond. Going to a property outside their district is a liability.

"Our district boundary basically runs right down the middle of the road on Old Maid Road and they were north of that," Fire District 5 Chief Brian Vogel said. 

North by only half a mile. Donald believes many others may be in the same risky situation and don't know it.

"I think that each and every one of us in this community that is rural and unincorporated need to be aware of this type of situation," he said. 
KIMA learned about 500 homes in all of Yakima County fall into no man's land, lying outside of any fire district boundaries. There is the possibility of paying taxes to contract for coverage. But, for sparsely populated areas like Donald's, that's unlikely.

"Unless you're in a very populous area, the tax revenue is just not going to be enough to start up a fire department," the chief said. 

Fire District 5 can only make sure more people know their status before learning the hard way. That added notification would mean new homeowners would be informed and the status printed on insurance paperwork.

Now, don't confuse fire coverage with medical response. Everyone in Yakima County is covered by that. So an ambulance will respond if you need one. Everyone got out safely from this fire and help is coming from the Red Cross.