Officials: Heritage University fire started above kitchen

Officials: Heritage University fire started above kitchen
Action News photo

HERITAGE UNIVERSITY NEWS RELEASE -- Yakima County fire inspectors have concluded their investigation into the cause of the fire that destroyed Petrie Hall at Heritage University.
In a report given to university officials, chief fire investigator Ron Rutherford said that the fire started above the kitchen in the attic.  This unoccupied location was part of the building’s original 1926 construction.  While investigators were able to pinpoint the fire’s origin, the exact cause for the blaze remains undetermined. Laboratory analysis is being conducted by Case Forensics in Mountlake Terrace, Wash. as part of standard investigating procedures. Results from this testing could be available later this week.
Crews from five lower valley stations responded to the fire on Sunday, July 8.  Fire fighters worked in 100 degree temperatures to initially save and then contain the blaze.   There were no injuries reported and no other structures were damaged.
Petrie Hall was the first building on the Heritage campus.  In 1984 the university, then Heritage College, purchased McKinley Elementary School from the Toppenish School District and renamed it Petrie Hall. The building was remodeled in 1999 to include the bookstore, cafeteria, several classrooms and computer labs.
The fire knocked out the university’s telephone and computer systems, to include internet and email. All data was backed up and is being recovered. Temporary email and phone numbers have been established and are available on the university’s emergency web site at The university managed to keep class disruptions at a minimum with classes canceled half a day on Monday after the fire.