Toppenish Public Works Department up and running after destructive fire

Toppenish Public Works Department up and running after destructive fire

TOPPENISH, Wash. – The Toppenish Public Works Department is running business as usual since the blaze that burnt down its building on Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters responded to a call around 2:40 p.m. on Wednesday, to find a city building on 8 Buena Road engulfed in flames.

A city worker was cleaning a paint gun, using paint thinner and cleaner when a reaction caused a fire, according to Toppenish Fire Chief Timothy Smith. The employee tried to extinguish the fire themselves but was unsuccessful.

The fire caused more than $1 million in damages including the loss of six city vehicles, a forklift, generators, air compressors and three employee vehicles that were parked next to the building, Smith said.

However, these damages are not slowing down the Public Works Department.

Public Works Superintendent Rocky Wallace said nothing really changed for them and that the fire was just a minor setback.

“It’s business as usual, through this time, as much as we can,” Wallace said. “You know our goal is always improvise, adapt and overcome and this is just another thing that’s kind of bringing all of us together.”

The Public Works Department maintains the water system, sewer system, waste water treatment plant and parks.

Wallace said the Public Works Department might need a little outside help but are continuing to serve the community.

“Any of the work that we normally do, we’re still going to continue doing it,” he said. “It may take us a little bit longer but we’re still going to get it done. I haven’t seen our call volume drop or our response time to the community drop as of yet, and it shouldn’t.”

Two employees were working in the building when the fire broke out but no one was injured, Wallace said.

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