Klickitat County Emergency Management is advising that minor smoke from the site of the Underwood Fruit and Warehouse fire in Bingen will be visible for a couple of more days. The fire that started early Wednesday morning is under control and contained in the building where it started. Investigators are on site and the Bingen Fire Department is checking on conditions periodically. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Meanwhile, Underwood Fruit is looking to the future. CEO Don Gibson says they have already begun planning to rebuild the packed fruit storage for a couple hundred thousand boxes, a state of the art pear packing line, and another small line for varietals that was lost to the fire. Gibson notes the company recently purchased another five acres immediately to the east side of the Bingen site for expansion.
The Dalles and Hood River Valley tied for first at the Wildhorse Invitational in Pendleton. Josephine Dickinson of HRV won the race with teammate Frances Dickinson in second. Emma Mullins was the top finisher for The Dalles in seventh. In the boys’ run Hood River Valley was second to Union of Washington while The Dalles was third. Josh Haynes finished seventh for HRV and Sam Alvarez of The Dalles was ninth.
Goldendale won the boys race and was second in the girls run at a four-school meet at Naches Valley. Dillon Rising and Lucas Anderson had a one-two finish for the Timberwolf boys, while Ellie Rising was second and Abby Hedges third for the Goldendale girls.
Big Sky Playoffs
Sherman def. Condon-Wheeler 24-26, 25-12, 25-12, 23-25, 15-5
Dufur def. Mitchell-Spray 25-3, 25-13, 25-13
Castle Rock def. Columbia 3 sets to 2
Seton Catholic def. Stevenson 25-22, 25-21, 25-23
Granger def. Goldendale 25-18, 26-24, 25-17
Summit 2, Hood River Valley 0
The Dalles 4, Mac-Hi 1
Stevenson 2, Castle Rock 1
Girls Water Polo
Hood River Valley 13, Grant 4
The CEO of Underwood Fruit and Warehouse says the damage suffered at the company’s Bingen facility in a fire that started Wednesday is substantial. Don Gibson says packed fruit storage for a couple hundred thousand boxes, a state of the art pear packing line, and another small line for varietals, adding the cost of replacement would be in the tens of millions of dollars. Fruit lost in the fire was ready for shipping, with Gibson adding most of the pears and apples at the Bingen site are in outside storage areas, and they are working on plans for packing those. Gibson said they lost two-thirds of the production capability and about a fourth of the storage on the site. Gibson points out the fire may burn for days because with the combination of fruit, wood, and other materials. He emphasized they will rebuild, noting the company recently purchased another five acres immediately to the east side of the Bingen site for expansion. The company employs about 270 workers at the site. According to its website, Underwood Fruit and Warehouse packs and ships for 55 area growers. The company was formed in 1917 by seven local growers.
A fifteen-year-old boy has been arraigned on a juvenile court petition in Hood River County on charges related to the Eagle Creek Fire. According to a statement released Thursday by the Oregon State Police of behalf of the Hood River County District Attorney’s Office, legal proceeding in the case have commenced in Hood River County Circuit Court. Allegations include acts of reckless burning, depositing burning materials on forest lands, unlawful possession of fireworks, criminal mischief and recklessly endangering other persons. The charging petition was filed by the Hood River County Juvenile Department at the direction of Hood River County District Attorney John Sewell. Although extensive damage caused by the wildfire occurred in both Hood River and Multnomah counties, Oregon’s juvenile code dictates that legal proceedings be commenced in the county where the illegal act originally occurred, which is Hood River County. According to the statement, the District Attorney’s office, the Oregon State Police and the Hood River County Juvenile Department will have no further comment until the case has been resolved.
A fundraising drive is underway to help Underwood Fruit employees in the wake of Wednesday’s fire at the company’s warehouses in Bingen. Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes says the City has partnered with Washington Gorge Action Programs on an account to take donations to help the employees with the holidays and winter coming. Donations can be made at gofundme.com/underwoodfruitfire. Washington Gorge Action Programs will be administering the fund.
Fire rekindled early this morning at the Underwood Fruit facility on the west end of Bingen, sending flames back into the air. That did not come as a surprise to fire officials, who had said late Wednesday afternoon that they expected the fire to flare up and burn additional material and release heavy smoke. The fire is contained to one building but is in the rafters, making it difficult to put out. The fire was reported at 5:45 a.m. Wednesday. The company employs about 270 workers at the site. According to its website, Underwood Fruit and Warehouse packs and ships for 55 area growers. The company was formed in 1917 by seven local growers. Eleven Klickitat County fire departments, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe fire train, Hood River Fire Department, Skamania Fire Department, and Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue have been involved in the firefighting effort.
Hood River County is looking at establishing an event permit ordinance. County Administrator Jeff Hecksel says they have had two recent situations that have led to looking at the topic. One involved a bike race organizer that asked for a fee reduction but had not applied for a permit, and when the County said they could consider that after an application was submitted, the promoter didn’t even bother with seeking the permit and held the event, and the County had no recourse because it lacked an ordinance. A second example was for a run where an application had been provided and a fee reduction was requested, and the Commission decided the structure should be looked at. Hecksel noted most places that hold events have a permit ordinance in place. The current fee structure depends on if the event is held on County roads or on County forestlands.
Columbia finished second to LaCenter in both the boys and girls races of the Trico League Championships at Vancouver Lake Park. Columbia’s Jacob Lockman was third and Dylan Beneventi fourth in the boys race, while Haley Blair was third and Joules Hope fifth for the Bruin girls. Stevenson was fourth in the girls’ run, paced by an eighth place finish from Cassie Macnab, while Stevenson’s boys were sixth, with Abiy LaCombe taking fifth individually. The Southwest Washington Class A District race is October 28 at Lewis River Golf Course east of Woodland.
Areas of Bingen and White Salmon are experiencing power outages in the wake of a large fire this morning at Underwood Fruit on the west end of Bingen. The fire is under control, but Bingen Mayor Betty Barnes said the power outages would continue until crews can completely extinguish it. According to Klickitat County Emergency Management, the fire is isolated to the building it originated in, and no hazardous material was released off of the site. Barnes indicated the fire started in an older building of the Underwood Fruit facility. Eleven Klickitat County fire departments, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe fire train, Hood River Fire Department, Skamania Fire Department, and Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue have been involved in the firefighting effort. The fire was reported at 5:45 a.m., and flames could be seen coming from the scene for about three hours. There is no word yet on the cause of the fire or the extent of the damage. Highway 14 is open with traffic controls in place. Smoke is anticipated from the fire site for the next few hours.
By a narrow 5-4 vote, the Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Agency board approved a restructuring of the installment loan agreement and land sales contract for the Sunshine Mill. Under the agreement, the outstanding balance of $290,000 for the installment loan and nearly $310,000 for the land sale are combined into a new loan agreement. Monthly payments of nearly $13,000 will begin in March, with an interest rate of 5.2%. The deal calls for Sunshine Mill to also pay property taxes owed to Wasco County by mid-March and interest only payments to the URA through February, and then title to the property will be turned over to Sunshine Mill owner Discover Development LLC. URA board chair Taner Elliott said that is intended to give company owner James Martin a better opportunity to receive a commercial loan that could be used to pay off the debt to Urban Renewal. Elliott also pointed out that if Discover Development misses a monthly payment, there would 15 days to rectify the situation or the property reverts back to the URA. John Fredrick, Chuck Raleigh, Kathy Schwartz, and Darcy Long-Curtiss voted against the agreement, with Long-Curtiss saying even though she was part of the negotiating team she felt the deal was too punitive.