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Sunnyside family displaced by blaze early Monday morning

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Two firefighters work to knock down a fire at a home on South Emerald Road early Monday morning.

Life can deal you some setbacks. Just ask the Alvarez family.

Early yesterday morning, while at Seattle Children's Hospital with an ill child, the couple's home at 531 S. Emerald Rd. just southwest of Sunnyside burned to the ground. Destroyed along with the modest structure were two of the family's cars.

Yakima County Fire District 5 Captain Joel Byam revealed that the owners of the house, the Doroteo Alvarez family, sustained a total loss of their home and belongings. He said the family is currently being assisted by relatives, and that the local chapter of the American Red Cross has been contacted to provide services it has at its disposal.

District 5 firefighters received the call for help at about 5:15 a.m. Monday morning. All told, 20 firemen from four different stations ended up on scene. It took approximately 45 minutes to bring the blaze under control.

"On the arrival of the first units, (they) found a 2,000-square foot home half involved, along with two cars and some trees," Byam said.

Byam related that all but one of the family members home at the time were sleeping when the fire started.

"The occupants' grandmother was outside tending to her garden when she noticed smoke coming from the entryway of the residence," said Byam. The woman scurried back into the house and was successful in waking everyone and getting them out of the home before it became fully engulfed in flames.

The fire quickly spread to the rest of the house, which Byam said is now considered a total loss. Estimated damages total $160,000.

None of those home at the time of the blaze, said Byam, know how the fire started. He said the investigation has formally been turned over to the Yakima County Fire Marshal's office.

Grass fire bigger

than believed

Byam also reported that a grass fire north of Washout Road, north of Sunnyside, which took about 50 firemen three and a half hours to contain last Saturday afternoon was originally thought to have encompassed about 300 acres. However, using GPS devices from the Bureau of Land Management long after the fire had been brought under control, the land mass that went up in flames actually was closer to 600 acres in size.

Fire District 5 officials were first contacted to investigate a report of smoke on the side of the ridge near SR-241 at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. While enroute, said Byam, the responding command officer confirmed there was a fire on the ridge and called in for additional fire suppression units to respond, along with a request for a bulldozer.

By the time the firemen reached the blaze it was estimated that 150 acres of land were already engulfed in fire, "...and being spread by the wind to the northwest," said Byam. Because the fire was bordering Bureau of Land Management property, federal resources were requested. The response included two firefighting helicopters from the Department of Natural Resources out of Ellensburg.

Byam said the cooperative effort between four stations from Fire District 5 and units from West Valley, East Valley, Gleed, Union Gap, Hanford and Prosser resulted in the grass fire being contained by 7 p.m.

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