By ROBERT S. MERRILL
A fire started at approximately 3:45 p.m. Wednesday at Valley Wide Co-op’s (Franklin County Grain Growers) grain mill at 264 So. State and totally destroyed the structure.
Fire crews were still on the scene at 8:30 p.m. mopping up and watching for hotspots in the granary tower and adjacent grain storage bins. A roller room, part of the grain mill, was also destroyed.
Firefighters from the Franklin County Fire District were assisted by North Logan and Logan, and other Utah fire departments that brought in aerial pumper trucks and additional equipment.
The county has a cooperative agreement with Cache County for assistance with major blazes.
Local fire officials would not speculate on the cause of the fire and said it may take several days to determine an exact cause. Damage estimates were not available immediately, according to officials.
A farm store, located just to the south of the mill, escaped damage. Several other warehouse and outbuildings were not involved.
Employees of the facility quickly evacuated the premises. Fuel and fertilizer trucks and other equipment was moved from the scene. Traffic was diverted to side-streets and a crowd gathered in the parking lot of Stokes Marketplace to watch. By 4 p.m. school busses with stops within three blocks of the fire returned to the school. Parents were notified to pick up students there.
Rocky Mountain Power officials cut power to the entire west side of State Street for two-to-three hours.
Stokes’ parking lot was cleared at approximately 4:30 p.m. Nearby businesses and homes were evacuated because officials were fearful of a grain-dust explosion.
At the same time the roof of the structure was crashing inward.
Besides the grain mill, a large amount of fertilizer, oil, and other product is stored at the facility.
Franklin County Fire District Fire Marshal Scott Martin said he and possibly the state fire marshal will be on scene on Thursday to inspect the structure and try and determine a cause.
Valley Wide CEO Dave Holtram and other company executives from Rupert
will be in Preston on Thursday morning to assess the damage.
Franklin County Grain Growers Co-op, an 81-year-old institution in southeastern Idaho, officially became Valley Wide Co op on Jan. 1 after a merger.
Valley Wide is headquartered in Rupert and is a farm supply dealer with several retail and other outlets in southern Idaho and Oregon.
FCGG served the needs of farmers and residents of Franklin County since 1930. The local company supplied propane, farm fuel, heating oil, coal, operated a feed mill and a retail, hardware, lumber, gasoline, and convenience store that opened in 2008.
Valley Wide began in 1998 with the merger of two small entities in Eastern Idaho — Menan and Madison Co-ops. It currently has $185 million in sales.
Valley Wide has three main divisions: agronomy, the engine of the company; retail and farm supply stores; and energy, the delivery of refined fuel and propane.
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