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Hopunion is spared wrath of "Fire Gods"

By Ralph Woodall
Hopunion CBS

It was just about noon on Monday, Oct. 2, 2006, when fire alarms went off at the neighboring dealer’s hop warehouse in Yakima.

A quick call to 911 and early response by the Yakima Fire Department, as well as numerous surrounding area fire departments, helped maintain the fire to a single hop warehouse that was being leased by another Yakima-area hop dealer.

The cause of the fire was determined to be spontaneous combustions, which are very common with the super alpha varieties. The Yakima Herald Republic reported the loss at an estimated 4 to 5 million dollars in value with an estimated loss in hops of about 10,000 bales, or 2,000,000 million pounds of mostly super alpha hops (CTZ).

Although the hop loss represented 4% of the new crop, with the higher alpha variety loss it was much greater, causing shortages in hop inventories this fall and increases in price and short supplies of CTZs.

Hopunion Owner/GM, Ralph Olson, was thankful, saying, "Hopunion was spared any loss other than a delay in the pellet plant processing for about 10 days to allow the clean up and removal of the destroyed hops and building."

He added, "It was disturbing to watch the fire and we feared the worst as our warehouse and pellet plant were threatened by the fire. The YFD did an excellent job and saved us from any loss."

The cold storage hop warehouses are air tight, so any of the smoke from the nearby fire was kept out of the warehouses that were full of the fresh 2006 harvest. The delay had put Hopunion behind in processing so a second shift was added to keep up with brewers’ demand for the new crop.

Everyone’s patience and understanding is appreciated as we get past the disturbing situation.