PENDLETON, ORE. — The Oregon State Fire Marshal has classified the fire that destroyed the Grain Craft flour mill in Pendleton on Aug. 9 as being “accidental in nature” and having an “undetermined” cause, according to the Pendleton Fire Department’s Facebook page.
No injuries were reported in the fire, which occurred when the storage silos were filled with wheat, making the fire more difficult to extinguish, fire officials said.
As of last week, the facility was still smoldering, and the Pendleton Fire Department said it was “aware of the impact this fire has had on the community.”
“We are sorry we have not been able to extinguish the smoldering,” the fire department said.
Natalie Faulkner, director of communications at Grain Craft, told World Grain, a sister publication of Milling & Baking News, that no decision has been made regarding plans for the Pendleton mill.
“We’re still assessing everything right now,” she said.
Pendleton is located in eastern Oregon, about 200 miles east of Portland. According to the 2022 Grain & Milling Annual published by Sosland Publishing Co., the mill has daily flour milling capacity of 6,000 cwts and storage capacity of 1.17 million bushels of wheat.
Grain Craft, which operates 13 flour mills in the United States, also has flour mills in the region in Portland (8,700 cwts of daily capacity); Blackfoot, Idaho (16,500 cwts); Ogden, Utah (16,400 cwts); and Great Falls and Billings, Mon. (7,500 cwts and 6,400 cwts, respectively).
The Pendleton mill for much of its history was owned by Kerr-Pacific Corp., Portland, Ore., and predecessor companies owned by the Kerr family. Kerr, Gifford & Co., in 1943 acquired a flour mill in Pendleton, known as the Walters Flouring Mills, a facility dating back to the 1890s. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1945. In the 1970s, Kerr Grain Co. acquired Collins Flour Mills in Pendleton, a mill built in 1919.
From 1937 until it was acquired by Kerr Grain, the flour mill was operated by General Foods Corp. In 2001, the Pendleton mill and two others owned by Kerr-Pacific became part of a joint venture with Milner Milling. The entire business was renamed Grain Craft in 2014 following the acquisition of Cereal Food Processors. In late June of this year, Grain Craft announced it would be acquired by Redwood Capital Investments, LLC.Grain Craft will continue to operate as an independent business following the transaction, Grain Craft said.