Officials continue to investigate Shearer’s Foods explosion

HERMISTON, Ore. — Last week had a busy start for first responders in Umatila County and Hermiston.

First, a 98-car pileup on snowy I-84 then the boiler explosion and fire at Shearer’s Foods in Hermiston.

“It’s probably the fire of my career in Hermiston,” Scott Stanton said.

Fire Chief Scott Stanton with Umatilla County Fire District Number One in Hermiston said when he saw the flames, his mind went to one thing.

“You know the first thing that comes to mind is the employees – the whole plant is basically shut down now I was told there’s 244 employees so what do those employees do where are they going to go?” he asked.

Luckily, Chief Stanton said everyone got out alive.

“We were so fortunate, by the grace of God that no fatalities, no injuries; the folks we did haul to the hospital were released that night,” he said.

Eleven additional fire and law enforcement agencies were called to the scene. Chief Stanton said while putting out the flames, there were some aspects of Shearer’s Foods they had to consider.

“We did have some vegetable oil tanks outside we had to protect there was a big propane tank we had to protect; there’s the storage all the potato chip bags they have oils on the potato chips,” Chief Stanton said.

The, as night fell, firefighters ran into another obstacle.

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“We’re starting to have freezing valves on our water tenders and our engines; started to become problematic,” he said.

In light of the destruction at Shearer’s Foods, the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce has stepped in to help those who are now jobless.

“Well, I want them to know that we’re here. We’ve been contacted many businesses throughout the community who are looking to support those people we’d like to give Shearer some time to get their feet under them before we do too much action motion such as have a job fair, we are planning that in the future to help folks,” Executive Director Val Hoxie said.

Chief Stanton said the fire marshal is still investigating the cause.

KAPP KVEW has reached out to Shearer’s Foods for a statement, they haven’t yet responded.