Photos for story shown at bottom of page.
Updated 1/9/2017 2:47 pm MST: Just in from Dwayne Fisher at Champion Produce Company, Parma, ID: “ALL CHAMPION IDAHO FACILITIES CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE! (photo below)
As many of you have probably heard the recent storms in Idaho have left plenty of devastation. Multiple packing facilities have collapsed and even more onion storage facilities are no longer standing. We have so far lost one storage facility with 2,500 plus bins and currently all of our Idaho facilities have structural concerns or issues. We have sent all packing employees home for their protection. We are currently working to get snow loads removed from the buildings to prevent further loss. Rain and more snow is forecasted in the near future and could lead to further issues. This AM our Tamura packing facility had a small fire caused from our neighbors losing their steel buildings and bringing down power lines with it. I was fortunate to find the fire and put it out before we had a total loss. The entire Wilder plant is without power and all onions currently packed on the floor are ruined from smoke damage. At this point we are not sure when we will be able to get back up and running. We are doing all in our power to find solutions and prevent further damage, while protecting the safety of our employees.
ONIONS SCHEDULED TO LOAD TODAY: MAIN CHAMPION PLANT: Trucks that are scheduled to load today WILL BE SHIPPED according to the product we have on the floor. TAMURA FACILITY: ALL PRODUCT ON THE FLOOR IS A TOTAL LOSS AND WE WILL NOT BE ABLE TO SHIP UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. WEST FACILITY: WE WILL LOAD PRODUCT ON THE FLOOR TODAY ACCORDING TO INVENTORY. UTAH: SHIPPING WILL REMAIN NORMAL.
We are currently not taking on additional orders until we get facilities up and running. We appreciate your understanding as we work through these challenges.”
Updated 1/9/2017 2:42 pm MST: Riverfront Produce located in Payette, ID reports storage facility roof collapse. (photo below)
Updated 1/9/2017 10:47 a.m. MST: Partners Produce in Payette, ID confirmed collapse on packing line. (photo below)
Original Story posted 1/9/2017 10:20 a.m. MST: Several Treasure Valley onion storage facilities and at least one packing shed have collapsed under the weight of record snow mixed with weekend rain, according to sources for OnionBusiness.com.
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The damage was widespread, hitting facilities in Weiser, ID, Ontario, OR, Nyssa, OR, and Parma, ID.
Ken Stewart, general manager of Four Rivers Onion Packing in Weiser, confirmed that operation’s packing shed roof collapsed on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 8. Stewart said insurance inspectors were coming to the site on Monday, Jan. 9, to assess the damage.
“We’re not packing now, and it could be a long time,” he said of the situation. “We really have no idea when we will pack.”
He continued, “We’re kind of scrambling here today. Rain over the weekend mixed with the heavy snow we had, and the roof collapsed onto the packing area of our shed.” He said the damage didn’t occur all at one time, explaining the initial collapse started at around 3 p.m. “There were three and maybe more instances of it collapsing,” he said.
OnionBusiness.com received confirmation that a storage facility for Champion West in Parma also sustained damage. We were also provided with a photo showing the collapse of a storage shed in Ontario, where several thousand bins of onions were held.
So far there have been no reports of injuries. “Our offices is a different structure from the packing shed,” Stewart said of Four Rivers. And the floor where we keep our product is also a different structure. Right now we’re concentrating on getting the snow off the roofs of these buildings. Our onions in storage are OK so far.”
Stewart added, “Thank goodness it happened on a Sunday afternoon and no one was injured.”
In addition to the structural damage from the snow, OnionBusiness.com is monitoring the situation with the Snake River, which reportedly breached its banks over the weekend. Parts of Payette, ID, may be evacuated, according to local news reports.