Four-alarm fire rips through Yakima storage facility

Four-alarm fire rips through Yakima storage facility
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Smoke could be seen for miles Sunday as a four-alarm fire ripped through a Yakima storage facility causing an estimated $1.5 million in damage.

Connie Cross watched as the fire ravaged the building, which held most of her belongings, including childhood pictures.

"I got a call from my daughter who lives in Arizona, to tell me that my things were burning up," said Cross.

Roughly 100 firefighters worked to extinguish the fire that engulfed Bernd Moving Systems at 660 North 18th Avenue.

Yakima firefighters initially responded to an automatic alarm from the storage facility around 9 a.m. Sunday.

The fire spread quickly, melting sidewalls and burning most of the building.

Firefighters from across the Yakima Valley were called in to assist YFD. It took them several hours to contain the fire.

City-owned backhoes were used to tear down walls, giving firefighters critical access to the flames.

"You could see fire shooting out of the roof at least 20 feet tall," said neighbor Ron Taylor.

"Was this shocking to see?" KIMA asked.

"Oh yeah, especially when it's in the neighborhood and we got a church here and everything else, all the families," said Taylor.

Bernd Moving Systems is a family-owned business that opened in 1965. Firefighters were able to save some documents from the building's office.

Dirk Bernd, whose parents own the business, stood by with his wife.

"Disbelief, not knowing something like this would ever happen," said Bernd.

The only injury reported involved a firefighter who suffered slight burns. No employees were inside of the building at the time of the fire.

"Oh, it's a bad fire no doubt about it," said Yakima Deputy Fire Chief Mark Soptich. "This is a major fire. There was a lot of fire involvement in the building. Metal buildings make it inherently tough to get into."

Following containment, firefighters called in an engineer to determine whether the building was safe to enter.

A mobile command post was set up to help with the next step in the process, which is an investigation to not only determine the cause of the fire, but whether or not foul play is involved.

That investigation will continue through Monday.

Action News will stay on top of this story as investigators work to determine what caused the fire.