The aftermath: Bin burn investigation continues, DFG leader thanks firefighters

MANGLED remains at Highway 281 and AGA Road as they looked on Wednesday.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
MANGLED remains at Highway 281 and AGA Road as they looked on Wednesday.

Authorities are asking for help from anyone with information on the nighttime Nov. 25 fire at Diamond Fruit Growers in Odell.

Investigators were on the scene Wednesday but had not yet ruled on a possible cause of the fire, which destroyed 10,000 empty plastic fruit bins at the intersection of Odell Highway and AGA Road.

Anyone with information may call 541-387-7077, the Hood River County Sheriff’s Office tip line. Wy’East Fire District, the State Police and Fire Marshal, and HRCSO are investigating. Yellow crime scene tape surrounded the fire scene, where a mangled moonscape of bin remains.

The estimated loss in the fire was $1.3 million. (The Nov. 27 edition included a far lower, incorrect figure.)

“We really want to thank the fire responders,” said Diamond Fruit CEO David Garcia. “They really helped mitigate the fire. It could have been far worse. They did an admirable job.” No DFG structures were affected and damage was minor on two neighboring homes.

Nearly 50 firefighters from Wy’east (Pine Grove and Odell departments), Parkdale, WestSide, and Hood River responded to the fire, assisted by HRCSO.

The destroyed bins comprised about one-sixth of the company’s total stock. (This is a revised figure over the Nov. 27 article.) The company had 40,000 plastic bins before the first, along with about 15,000 wooden ones. Most of the burned bins were 4-5 years old.

Garcia said he would ask bin manufacturers to do a site visit soon, as DFG moves ahead with replacing the bins. He said he expected no problem in replacing them by this summer, when picking resumes. The company had resumed normal operations on Nov. 26.

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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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