Fires rip through two Yakima businesses a few blocks apart

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Investigators are trying to solve the mystery behind two fires that started within minutes of each other Tuesday morning. Two businesses caught fire moments apart, less than a mile from each other in Yakima: one on Nob Hill Boulevard, the other on South 1st Street.

Everything that once belonged to Audio King is now gone.

"Whatever's inside was plastic, so it's all melted down," said the property owner's son, Jairo Palomares.

Most of it car stereos for the business on. The employees: now out of work.

Contractors boarded up the wall after 13 firefighters put out the flames. In the end, about $300,000 in damage. No one at the business would talk. I spoke to Jairo about his dad.

"I think he's a bit disappointed," he said. "I think he's not very happy about it."

The unhappiness doesn't end here. When this fire broke out, crews already had their hands full around the corner on South 1st Street. This warehouse owned by Bemis Appliance was up in flames. Damage to the building and inventory was put at about $80,000 overall.

"Obviously, it's going to have to be gutted and demoed inside here and then rebuilt," said owner Ron Bemis.

Ron says it's not the lost property that bothers him so much.

"The big thing is the inconvenience, disrupting our regular work. We can't do our regular work when we're over here trying to clean this up and get this taken care of."

What's not clear to investigators is how the fires started. They say they can't rule out anything. But, one thing the fires had in common was that firefighters had to break into both locked buildings to get to the flames.

Ron is suspicious about the motive. He thinks an old sign on his appliance building for stereos might have attracted a criminal, who then headed to Audio King for the same equipment. Investigators won't comment about that possibility.

For now, all that's left are two big messes.

"It's hard for us, people that work hard," said Jairo. "Now, we have to replace all the damage."

Jairo says that could take a while.

No one was hurt in either fire. Investigators tell KIMA they're looking into a possible connection between the two fires, but cannot confirm any at the moment. They also don't know how long it will take to determine the causes.