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Industrial fire destroys half of downtown Kennewick food processor building

Blaze damages Baker Produce in Kennewick

An overnight fire at Baker Produce heavily damaged the downtown building. The Kennewick food processor on Railroad Avenue handles potatoes, asparagus, apples and cherries.
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An overnight fire at Baker Produce heavily damaged the downtown building. The Kennewick food processor on Railroad Avenue handles potatoes, asparagus, apples and cherries.

A Kennewick vegetable processing center was still smoldering Wednesday after fire tore through two floors of the industrial building overnight.

Firefighters first learned about the blaze around 11:30 p.m. when people spotted smoke near Fruitland Street and Railroad Avenue, said fire Battalion Chief Tod Kreutz.

Fire crews soon discovered flames and smoke inside the Baker Produce plant across the railroad tracks from the Tri-City Herald in downtown Kennewick.

“Crews pushed hard to find a deep-seated fire in the warehouse,” Kennewick firefighters said on their Facebook page. “They were met with tremendous heat, zero visibility and compromised construction.”

Crews were able to protect a good portion of the manufacturing equipment by keeping the fire from advancing, Kreutz said.

The 12,000-square-foot building dates back to 1963 when pieces were brought in by rail. The company processes potatoes, asparagus, apples and cherries throughout the year.

Baker Produce drone fire
A Kennewick fire truck remains stationed on the scene of an overnight fire Wednesday at Baker Produce on Railroad Avenue in Kennewick. About half of the roof of the metal building is sagging from the heat and damage. Watch a video: tricityherald.com/video Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Heavy equipment was brought in later in the day to tear through the side of the building to get at the remaining flames.

No workers were inside of the building when it started burning, and no firefighters were hurt.

Deputy Fire Marshal Brian Ellis said they had the flames contained within an hour and a half. The damage inside is significant — at least half of the two-story building burned.

Much of the fire was on the second story, which was a mezzanine that was open to the manufacturing floor.

Baker Produce fire ground
Kennewick firefighters work on the scene early Wednesday morning of an overnight fire at Baker Produce on Railroad Avenue in Kennewick. About half of the roof of the metal building is sagging from the fire’s heat. No one was injured in the blaze. The cause of the fire is under investigation. Watch a video: tricityherald.com/video Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Firefighters know the fire started on the second floor but they were still working to determine how it began.

Kennewick was joined by Pasco and Richland fire departments, along with Benton County Fire districts 1, 2 and 4, Franklin County Fire District 3 and Walla Walla County Fire District 5.

The Benton County Assessor estimates the entire complex’s value is $920,000.

The company employed at least 65 people at the location, Ellis said.

Representatives from Baker Produce declined Wednesday to talk about the fire.

TRI_BakerProduceinvestigati
Kennewick fire invistigators use an excavator to tear open the sides of the Baker Produce building Wednesday afternoon following a fire that heavily damaged the food processing facility. Watch a video at: tricityherald.com/video Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald


Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.
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