A large fire at the Washington Potato Co. plant in Warden, WA, resulted in nearly a third of the town being evacuated for several hours as officials feared that an ammonia tank might explode. The fire occurred on January 21, 2021, and crews worked overnight to put out the flames. Officials went door-to-door to alert nearby residents and more than two dozen fire fighting crews from Grant County helped to put out the blaze.

According to a foreman at the plant, the fire originated in a dehydrator. Employees in the building were able to escape safely and no injuries were reported. The facility uses dehydrators to produce dried potato akes used to make instant mashed potatoes and dried potato slices and chunks for soups and other instant potato products.

In February, Oregon Potato Co. announced that it would permanently layoff 62 employees as a result of the damage from the fire. A local training manager and rapid response coordinator said that 75 employees participated in Skill-Source’s organized efforts to help affected employees apply for unemployment, look at options for future work, and get information on other resources. The plant was an important employer in the town of Warden with a population of about 2,700. 4-21