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  3-alarm fire at Organic Valley Creamery prompts evacuations   Cause of the fire unclear at this time  

Story by The Oregon Herald Staff
Published on Wednesday April 21, 2021 - 1:29 PM

PORTLAND, Oregon - KGW's Sky8 helicopter was able to capture smoke rising from the Organic Valley creamery. The view showed emergency responders attempting to put out the fire Tuesday afternoon.

"I'm told they were putting down roughly 9,000 gallons of water a minute," said Mark Pfeiffer, vice president of internal operations for Organic Valley.

Residents were told they could return home on Tuesday evening hours after a fire started burning at Organic Valley Creamery in McMinnville.

Earlier in the day, the McMinnville Fire Department asked residents within 1/4 a mile of the creamery to evacuate. The creamery is located at 700 NE Hwy 99W. McMinnville police said the evacuations were due to ammonia inside the facility.

Elementary schools in the area were let out on time, but secondary schools cancelled the final period. All after school activities and athletics were cancelled.

Officers said firefighting crews would remain at the scene throughout the night. The cause of the fire has not yet been announced.

KGW TV says a Tweet from the McMinnville Police Department raised concerns about ammonia, which initially prompted evacuations. But Pfeiffer says there was small amount of ammonia in a cooling system and what is still on site is expected to be removed by the end of Wednesday.

Details are still scarce when it comes to the cause of the fire.

"The only thing we know right now is the general location of where the fire started, which is in one of our dry warehouses. Other than that, I can't speculate on the cause," Pfeiffer said.

A fire official told FOX 12 news that the damage could be upwards of 40 to 50 million dollars. Organic Valley issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying they're grateful no one was hurt and that their main concerns are for their employees, first responders and the community.