5-alarm fire wipes out hazelnut drying plant

5-alarm fire wipes out hazelnut drying plant

SALEM, Ore. - No one was hurt in a five-alarm fire that broke out at a hazelnut drying plant early Sunday morning, but hundreds of thousands of pounds of the nuts were lost in the blaze.

The first call came in around 2:20 a.m. and crews quickly responded to the plant, located in the 7500 block of 65th Avenue N.E., north of Salem.

Bob Rommel works at the plant and lives next door to the business. His said his dog woke him up and then he noticed something suspicious.

"I didn't hear the burners running and ran outside to see what was going on," he said. "I thought it was a brush fire going, but it was the plant on fire."

It didn't take long for the fire to go to five alarms and water tender trucks were brought in to shuttle water to the scene because there were no fire hydrants available. Both a building and attached silo were on fire.

Firefighters also initially had reports that two employees might be inside. After a search, they discovered the two had made it out safely.

The fire burned throughout the morning and it took crews around eight hours to get it fully extinguished. Staff at the business estimate around 400,000 pounds of hazelnuts were lost.

The cause is under investigation. There is no damage estimate at this time, but fire officials said the building is a total loss.