Fruit warehouse in Columbia Gorge burns

Fire in Bingen disrupts power to 600 customers

By Craig Brown, Columbian Managing Editor



A large fire in a fruit storage and packing facility has disrupted the morning routine in Bingen, a Columbia River Gorge town about 65 miles east of Vancouver.

The fire broke out about 5:45 a.m. Wednesday at Underwood Fruit & Warehouse, a company that stores, packs and ships fresh apples, pears and cherries to markets around the world.

TV helicopter images showed flames licking from a large warehouse-type building. Underwood Fruit & Warehouse has several controlled atmosphere storage buildings, refrigerated storage and a packing line on the site.

Officials say 11 Klickitat County fire departments responded to fight the blaze that broke out before dawn.

Three pear warehouses appeared to be destroyed. An apple warehouse was spared, company CEO Don Gibson told KGW. He said no one was in the buildings where fire broke out.

The company employs about 270 workers at the site.

According to its website the company has served area fruit growers since 1917, and has a sister company, The Dalles Fruit Co., in Dallesport.

KATU reported a fire destroyed the company’s previous warehouse building in 1955. It opened a packing line at the current location about three later.

About 600 Klickitat County Public Utility District customers were temporarily without power after the flames burned through a major power supply line.

The warehouse is at 6550 Highway 14, just west of the downtown.