Sunday, February 28, 2021

Fire destroys Washington Potato Company, triggers evacuation

by Emily Thornton, Community Editor
| January 21, 2021 7:50 PM

A fire erupted inside Washington Potato Company in Warden Thursday night and likely was going to burn for several hours, officials said. It also triggered a Level 3 Evacuation and possible ammonia tank explosion.

Someone called dispatch at around 5:30 p.m. to report a fire in the potato production plant’s dehydrator at 1900 W. First St., said Kyle Foreman, Grant County Sheriff’s Office public information officer.

Foreman said everyone was out of the building and no one was injured.

Grant County Fire districts 4 and 5, Royal Slope Fire Department and EMS responded, he added. Othello Fire Department was en route at around 7:30 p.m. to assist.

Foreman said about 25 fire apparatuses were on scene and firefighters were using a defensive tactic, pouring water from the outside, as it was safer. This also would cause the fire to last longer, he said.

By 8:15 p.m., a Level 1 Evacuation notice was given by the GCSO for all areas west of Road U Southeast and south of state Route 170 in Warden. Level 1 means "Get Ready" to leave the area quickly and those with special needs, a trailer, recreational vehicle, livestock or pets should consider leaving soon.

The evacuation was updated to Level 3 at 8:41 p.m., meaning those areas were told by officials to leave immediately due to a possible ammonia tank explosion. Officers were going door-to-door to notify people. Emergency services might not be available for those who chose to stay in the area.

State Route 170 from state Route 17 was closed as well, according to Washington State Patrol Trooper John Bryant's social media account.