Fire severely damages duplex, displaces seven people


Stacey Smith-Colon searches through recovered belongings for her children’s clothing Wednesday evening after the fire in the garage of the damaged duplex.


A fire destroyed the upper level and damaged the lower level of a duplex on Sunrise Drive on Wednesday afternoon, displacing seven residents, several dogs and cats, and a goldfish, according to the news release from the Pullman Fire Department.

Deputy Fire Marshal Tony Nuttman determined the fire was started by a discarded cigarette on the outside deck, which a resident had placed in a recycle bin filled with cardboard and paper, according to the release. He ruled the fire accidental.

Neighbors alerted the residents of the lower unit, and all escaped unharmed, according to the release. Firefighters responded at about 4:30 p.m. and found flames and smoke coming from the roof. They poured water on a nearby tree to prevent the fire from spreading.

One of the downstairs residents, Stacey Smith-Colon, is an adviser in the Carson College of Business. Her husband, Ricardo Colon, currently works at AT&T. Two of their children, a 15-year-old and a 10-year-old, were home at the time of the fire with their two cats and dog. The oldest called their mother, and Smith-Colon left work to help move things out of the house.

At about 9:30 p.m., the parents searched through the bags they packed while evacuating their house, looking for clothes and shoes for their children.

“Nothing can really prepare you for this,” Colon, a former firefighter, said. He and Smith-Colon said they knew the responding firefighters and had faith in their abilities.

Smith-Colon said she believes the upstairs residents are WSU students. At least two people lived upstairs with three dogs and a goldfish, according to the release. Crews found a Great Dane, in apparent distress, on the upper deck. They used a ladder to rescue the dog and returned it to its owner.

The upper floor sustained major damage from fire, smoke and water, and could not be reoccupied, according to the release. The bottom floor sustained only water damage but is condemned, Smith-Colon said. There is not yet a damage estimate.

When the fire department offered to call the American Red Cross to provide shelter for the residents, they said they had places to stay, according to the release. Neighbors are taking in the downstairs family, who have two months left on their lease.

“Right now, we’re homeless,” Smith-Colon said.

Fire Chief Mike Heston noted in the release that this fire shows the importance of renters insurance.