Dehydration plant catches fire again

Contributed photoUmatilla County Fire District 1 responded to multiple fires over the past three days, including this barn fire in the 33000 block of Punkin Center outside Hermiston early Sunday morning.

The 3D Idapro Solutions dehydration plant in Stanfield caught fire again on Monday.

The fire — one of at least four at the plant in about a year — started in the scrubber unit, which is used to mitigate odors.

“It was exactly where the fire was last time,” said Scott Stanton, chief of Umatilla County Fire District 1.

The fire district responded to a call at 11:38 a.m. and personnel were on scene until about 2 p.m. Stanton said the damage was mostly kept to the scrubber area and no one was injured. He said the cause was not yet confirmed but was possibly related to some maintenance work taking place on Monday.

The plant’s first scrubber unit burned up in February 2017. The company brought in a new scrubber — which representatives later admitted was undersized for the plant — and experienced two more fires in June and July 2017. One worker was injured in the July fire, caused by an explosion in the bag house.

3D Idapro Solutions purchased the plant on Hoosier Lane in the summer of 2016 to use for dehydrating potato products used in dog food. After the fire last February, Stanfield residents began complaining to the city council that a strong rotten smell, described as “vomit” and “dead flesh” were keeping them indoors and causing them to retch and gag.

The company promised to install a new scrubber in the fall of 2017 that would better capture odors, and also took other mitigation steps such as re-routing trucks and grading the site so that potato product did not spill out of trucks.

The company did not respond to a request for comment on Monday afternoon.

Weekend fires

The fire in Stanfield on Monday added to what had been a busy weekend for UCFD1. On Saturday evening about 8:40 p.m. the district responded to a house fire in the 300 block of Southeast 9th Street in Hermiston.

Stanton said a wood stove chimney caught the roof on fire. While the roof had substantial damage, Stanton said the rest of the home was able to be saved in part because of a fast-acting neighbor who called 9-1-1 immediately and the homeowner who used a garden hose on the roof while waiting for fire trucks to arrive.

A caller had reported another roof fire earlier in the day, about 3 p.m., but that one turned out to be a false alarm. Stanton said the fire district was conducting a flammable liquids training in the Hermiston High School parking lot and someone had mistaken the “large” flames that were part of the training for a building with its roof on fire.

UCFD1 also put out a barn fire in the 33000 block of Punkin Center outside Hermiston early Sunday morning. Stanton said the cause of the fire was still under investigation as of Monday afternoon, but by the time the department was called out at 5:58 a.m. the metal roof of the barn had already collapsed.

“It had been going for a while,” he said.

The department also responded to four motor vehicle crashes over the weekend, including a semi-truck that tipped over near exit 188 on Interstate 84. The driver was transported by ambulance to the hospital.

“It kept us pretty busy,” Stanton said of the weekend.

News Editor

Hermiston Herald news editor and reporter covering city government and economic development in Hermiston, Umatilla, Stanfield and Echo.

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