Eastern Oregon firefighters are trying to put out a fire at a venerable flour mill in the heart of Pendleton on Wednesday.
Pendleton Police Chief Chuck Byram, the designated public information officer for the fire, said Pendleton Flour Mills initially caught fire Tuesday afternoon when there was failure in a sifter’s filter. The Pendleton Fire Department evacuated the mill without incident and put out the fire.
The fire reignited Wednesday morning around 4 a.m. when no one was in the building. According to a press release, the building became engulfed when dry grain and wood inside the building caught fire.
Fire crews from around the region responded and smoke was still visible from the mill as of 2:30 p.m. The press release refers to the building as a “total loss.”
“This is the worst case scenario for them,” Byram said.
He said firefighters are trying to prevent the fire from spreading further in the building, estimating the facility contains “hundreds of thousands of pounds” of flour. Byram did not know when firefighters would be able to extinguish the blaze.
In a press release, the Pendleton mills’ parent company said that 22 people worked at the facility and no one was hurt.
Byram said authorities have closed down street access in an eight- to 16-block radius. The area immediately surrounding Pendleton Flour Mills is a mixture of homes, commercial buildings and government offices, including the Umatilla County Courthouse. Court operations were moved to Hermiston as a result of the fire.
Pendleton Flour Mills’ history dates back to the early 20th century and the company is owned by Grain Craft of Chattanooga, Tennessee. In June, Grain Craft announced it had been acquired by the Baltimore-based Redwood Capital Investments.
According to the company’s press release, the mill makes flour for a number of foods, like pizza and tortillas.