Pine Canyon Growers fire

Fire still smolders in the packed fruit storage room of Pine Canyon Growers, Orondo, Wash., at noon Nov. 26 from a fire the night before. Sawdust-insulated walls were too hard to extinguish so firefighters let them burn.

ORONDO, Wash. — The fire that destroyed offices and a packed apple warehouse at Pine Canyon Growers was apparently caused by a fan motor failure.

A fan in the northeast corner of the packed fruit storage area was served by three old motors, one of which showed evidence of failure, said Capt. Doug Drescher of Douglas County Fire District 2.

That’s what an investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is showing, Drescher said.

Andy Feil, co-owner of Pine Canyon Growers, said he had been told the same thing and that the company still hopes to be back in operation in a matter of weeks, not months. 

The fire was spotted by a passerby about 5:20 p.m. Nov. 25. Firefighters arrived to find the whole back side of the approximate 10,000-square-foot warehouse on fire and the roof collapsed. Firefighters fought the fire for several hours and then determined to let it burn itself out since smoldering sawdust insulation is almost impossible to extinguish, Drescher said. 

A lot of water went on the fire that Sunday night and another 80,000 gallons on Tuesday to cool off a portion investigators wanted to look at, he said. 

The ruins were still smoldering on Thursday, he said. 

Drescher said only the southern portion of the warehouse contained packed fruit and the northern part, where the fire started, had a few pallets of boxed apples. 

Feil said he did not know how much packed fruit was lost or an approximate total dollar loss. 

Central Washington field reporter

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