A Blue Bird Inc. cold storage building in Peshastin, Washington, was destroyed in a fire that started Sunday night.
“The building is going to be a total loss,” Chelan County Fire Marshal Bob Plumb told the Wenatchee World. “The adjacent buildings were not involved at all and they should be fine.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation. The facility was full of pears, according to firefighters on the scene.
Blue Bird, headquartered in Peshastin, is one of the Northwest’s oldest grower cooperatives with close to 200 grower members and investments in pear, apple and cherry production.
In 2015, a wildfire destroyed a Blue Bird cherry packing house in nearby Wenatchee. Eleven months later, the co-op reopened a new state-of-the-art cherry packing line at the site.
The two Blue Bird facilities are among six fruit warehouses in North Central Washington that have been involved in a major fire in the last four years, according to the Wenatchee World.
The other warehouses include Pine Canyon Growers in Orondo in November 2018, Phillippi Fruit in Wenatchee in March 2017, Chelan Fruit in Chelan in August 2015 and Stemilt Growers in Wenatchee in June 2015. The Stemilt facility was burned in the same wildfire that destroyed the Blue Bird cherry packing house.
Older warehouses are more susceptible to fires, Douglas County Fire Marshal Kurt Blanchard told the Wenatchee World.
“The older age class are obviously at higher risk,” he said. “I think modern warehouses, built under current code standards, adequately meet the laws for fire protection.”
The stories are available at wenatcheeworld.com (a subscription may be required).
Find Good Fruit Grower’s story on Blue Bird reopening its new cherry packing line after the 2015 fire at goodfruit.com/bouncing-back-bigger-and-better.