Million-dollar Damages in Harrisburg Grass Seed Plant Fire

May 20, 2010

By Gia Vang

HARRISBURG, Ore. — A massive fire at a grass seed farm is still smoldering Thursday.

The three-alarm fire destroyed tons of product just a few weeks away from harvest. The flames could be seen from miles away.

“They said they had seen a red shadow from the fire, clear into town,” neighbor Ginger Holt said.

The dark evening sky was lit up by an intense fire, that left nothing behind.  Neighbor Myron Zoller said it’s amazing how much light something like that puts off.

“The trees on the opposite side of the road was just like daylight,” he said.

The fire at Diamond RB, LLC broke out at around 8:30 p.m. It ripped through storage houses for grass seed and cattle feed. The blaze was so strong, nearby neighbors could feel it before they ever saw it.

“The whole house just rattled, like an earthquake type of feeling,” said Holt.

It took 40 firefighters and 13 engines to get it under control. They worked all night to try to put all the flames out.

“Roof was falling in at that time, and it’s just really a hot fire,” Zoller said.

Co-owner Russ Baker spent Thursday morning sifting through what was left.

“It’ll definitely affect our storage and how we can handle this year and clean seed and make the pellets,” he said.

Baker said they are six weeks shy of harvest, but he isn’t sure what’s going to happen now that their storage is clearly burnt to the ground.

The cause is anyone’s guess at this point. Investigators say the barn burned so intensely, they may never figure it out. But Baker is sure they’ll be fine.

“I kind of have the feeling this is a part of life, and it’s kind of humbling to know you don’t control it,” he said.

He said an initial appraisal by the insurance company says the damage was a little over a million dollars.

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