Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Jana Mathia
Whitman County Gazette 

McCoy opens after damage


September 3, 2020

ROSALIA — Rosalia Fire District No. 7 responded to multiple smoldering fires at McCoy Grain Terminal on Saturday afternoon.

The fires caused “significant damage” to the structure, with fires from one end to the other which shut down operation of the facility, Fire Chief Bill Tensfeld said.

Access was a big problem, as the smoldering fires appeared in the intake and load-out side and the dust collector, he said.

“Dust is so explosive,” Tensfeld said.

Despite the damage, McCoy Elevator and Rail Terminal should be operating by the end of the week, according to Pacific Northwest Cooperative CEO Shawn O’Connell.

Damage was done to the conveying equipment and extensively to the load-out equipment, but the cooperative expects to be operating enough to get through the rest of harvest shortly.

“We do appreciate (the growers’) patience as we work through this problem,” O’Connell said.

At the time of the incident, McCoy was doing 400 trucks per day. While the elevator has been down, those trucks have re-routed to more than 20 other facilities.

Firefighters used minimal water to avoid grain getting wet and sprouting. Responders started the attack in the conveyors and sprayed down hot spots, then dumped the dust collector and took care of those hot spots.

Earlier predictions — not made by the cooperative — were that McCoy would be down for the rest of harvest. O’Connell said there was damage they could not repair and crews had to be brought in to assess and fix it.

Crews are working as fast as they can to make repairs. Meanwhile, cleanup of the water used to extinguish the smoldering fires is underway.

The call went out at 3 p.m .; responders came from Rosalia, Oakesdale, Colfax, Steptoe and St. John, with Colfax providing its ladder truck.

A crew was on scene until midnight and then returned from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Responders looked for hot spots through sight, smell and a thermal imaging camera, Tensfeld said. There were no flames, only smoldering dust.

The rail line was not damaged, and a train is scheduled to arrive Thursday, O’Connell said. As soon as it does, the cooperative will start loading.

The cause of the fires is believed to be a mechanical failure, but it is still under investigation.

Author Bio

Jana Mathia, Reporter

Jana Mathia is a reporter at the Whitman County Gazette.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 509-397-4333
Contact Jana Mathia


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