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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

100 firefighters battle warehouse blaze

By Dan Hansen and Jonathan Brunt The Spokesman-Review

About 100 firefighters battled a spectacular blaze that destroyed a straw warehouse in the farming community of Rockford on Thursday night.

The fire was in a Seeds Inc. warehouse that stored bagged bluegrass straw, but the massive effort kept it from reaching the business’ seed processing plant, said Kevin Miller, deputy fire marshal for the Spokane Valley Fire Department, one of many agencies that assisted in the effort.

“They’re using more water than Rockford can produce, so they’re going to Fairfield” to get more, Miller said.

Crews were called to the Spokane County town off state Highway 27 about 8 p.m. when employees noticed the fire in the three-sided metal building. Firefighters worked to empty the warehouse of bagged straw.

Flames were still visible by 11:30 p.m., but firefighters said they had it under control.

“They had quite a lot of wind that made it difficult to control,” Miller said.

No one was injured.

Farmers started Seeds Inc. in 1970 to clean and market their bluegrass seed, The Spokesman-Review reported in 2003.

Environmental restrictions in recent years prompted the Tekoa-based company into looking for markets for the straw that used to be burned in the fields.

Rockford is a town of about 500 people about 15 miles south of Spokane Valley, at the northern edge of the Palouse.

Fairfield, which is another 10 miles south, was the scene of a similar fire that destroyed the Heart Seed Co.’s warehouse. That 2003 fire later was determined to be arson.

The cause of Thursday’s fire had not been determined.

In addition to the Spokane Valley firefighters, six Spokane County fire districts were involved in controlling the fire, along with the fire department from Worley, Idaho.