Fire flattens Odell building

November 9, 2011

On Friday, Nov. 4, two passers-by spotted an ominous cloud of gray smoke as it billowed from under the metal eaves of a large farm structure at 3045 Gilhouley Road.

The first to sight the danger was phoning in through the 9-1-1 system while the second, Odell volunteer fire Capt. Joey Sheirbon, called emergency dispatch directly.

Firefighters from four departments were on scene within minutes at the two-story combined shop and foreman residence, owned by James Sims and located within a commercial cherry orchard.

"The building is a 90-percent loss and the contents of the shop are a 100-percent loss," said Odell Fire Chief Greg Borton. "The residential area is severely damaged and most of the contents are a loss, as well."

The fire, which may have started in the northeast corner of the shop where a heat lamp was being used to warm a water pipe, consumed ladders, tools, picking bags, buckets and four-wheelers. The cause is still under investigation and no injuries were reported.

In the living quarters, furniture and personal belongings of the orchard foreman, Sam Loza, and his wife were also damaged or lost, with fire crews able to salvage only a few pieces of furniture.

Engines from Odell, Parkdale, Pine Grove and West Side arrived on scene and 22 firefighters assisted in the initial containment, which ended around 6:30 p.m.

However, personnel and equipment were called back around 7 p.m. when a flare-up occurred in the upper story of the metal-sided building.

"The metal siding and roof held heat inside very effectively before it vented out," said Borton, who was out of town at the time of the fire. "It could have been burning for quite some time before it was sighted." Loza was in the orchard at the time of the fire and did not see it start.

Sheirbon served as incident commander and Hood River Fire Chief Devon Wells assisted on the investigation and fire reports.

Several cherry trees near the 3,200-square-foot wood frame structure were scorched during the fire but an equipment shed housing multiple tractors, sprayers and hay storage was protected successfully by the fire crews.

Final mop-up following the second flare-up lasted until about 9:30 p.m.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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