Prosser damage

A three-alarm fire destroyed a longtime Prosser butcher shop and meat locker and damaged city hall and the police department on Saturday. 

PROSSER — Prosser city officials are still hunting for a new place to set up shop but their virtual home was back online Tuesday.

Officials have endless details to hammer out after a fire destroyed the police department and water flooded City Hall over the weekend, said City Administrator Tom Glover.

The blaze started in the roof above Underwood’s Prosser Lockers on Saturday afternoon and spreading through the space between the roof and the ceiling to neighboring city offices and businesses, said West Benton Fire Rescue Capt. Scott Friend.

The more than 100-year-old building on a large section of a downtown city block was hard to reach, and burned through a shared wall of the police station.

Police and firefighters worked quickly to pull out the most essential items before the flames spread.

“Most of what was destroyed were desks and computers,” Glover said. “The equipment and evidence was saved. Most of the important files were saved.”

The damage hasn’t stopped police from working, since they can still use their cars, he said.

On Monday, city employees worked out of the Prosser Senior/Community Center, a few blocks from their Bennett Avenue building.

Glover said the city is searching for a new temporary home until City Hall is fixed. He spent the morning scouting locations, but nothing had been settled.

He said updated information will be shared on the city’s Facebook page.

“We are fully staffed and fully functional,” he said.

While the change will affect employees, once email was working again, the public isn’t likely to notice much of a change, he said. City Hall already had been closed for more than a year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Several roads in downtown Prosser will stay closed, including Bennett Avenue between Sixth and Seventh Street and Seventh Street between Meade and Bennett Avenue.

Monday, staff members salvaged some equipment and files from City Hall. Crews propped open doors to air out the building, while pairs went inside the flooded offices with an inspector to retrieve items.

The city’s computer servers were found and taken to the Benton REA offices to be dried out.

While they are not sure if the server will need replacing, Glover said city information is backed up in cloud storage.

At this point, city officials are not sure the extent of the damage or what repairs will cost.

Glover said the police department and public works staff have done a lot so far.

And he praised West Benton Fire Rescue’s firefighters for their efforts to control and extinguish the fire. “We’re grateful that there were no injuries,” he said.

They were helped by crews from Benton County Fire Districts 1, 2 and 4; Yakima County Fire District 5; and the cities of Kennewick, Richland, Pasco, Grandview, Sunnyside and Toppenish

The owners of Underwood’s Prosser Lockers are trying to contact customers who had meat stored in the building. They are asking people to reach out through their Facebook page.