Pasco's old Liberty Theatre catches fire

PASCO, Wash. -- Not 24 hours ago, the old Liberty Theatre in downtown Pasco was still standing. Renovations were almost complete to the building that's nearly a century old. The owner was getting ready to put it on the market.

Then the flames erupted. Dozens of firefighters from around the area were dispatched in the dark. The Liberty Theatre burned for an hour before it was under control.

Romy Robles lives in the apartments, next door to the theatre. He said, "It was almost like a dome of fire just over the building. I would guess those flames shot up at least a good 50 feet in the air."

He just moved in after his last place was destroyed when the Sacajawea Apartments caught fire last month. Up late, Romy was the first to call 911 and began alerting his neighbors.

"I was a little hesitant about getting everybody out because I didn't want to start a panic," he said.

A hose was kept pointed on the building overnight. In the daytime a large crane was brought in to tear down the walls. It was positioned right on Fourth Street. Crews used a claw to tear down what was left, careful not to damage surrounding buildings.

Shop owners Pedro and Lily Ochoa say they were still affected.

"We were kinda shocked. We were hoping it didn't cross over to our building, unfortunately we saw the wall come down on top of it, it's a mess in there," said Pedro.

As word of the demolition spread, onlookers lined the streets.

Once all the debris is safely removed, inspectors will then be able to go inside and determine the extent of the damage. They will try to figure out how this all started. That can take days, even weeks.

In the meantime, businesses next door to the charred building will remain closed.

Officials hope to have the scene secure soon.

Fourth Street between Lewis and Clark should reopen by Thursday.