Fire at Washington Potato Processor Hurts Already Struggling Industry
A potato processing plant in the central Washington town of Warden burned down in a dramatic overnight fire last week. The plant was one of two dehydrated potato processing plants in the state, used to dry potatoes deemed unfit to sell to consumers. Those spuds instead end up in processed foods like instant mashed potatoes.
The plant’s owner is Frank Tiegs, a well-known player in the Northwest potato industry. He farms thousands of acres across the Northwest and owns plants in the Tri-Cities, and major facilities in Oregon and Idaho.
Potatoes are big business in the Northwest. In Washington alone they account for an USD7.4bn economic impact and 36,000 jobs, according to the Washington Potato Commission. But potatoes aren’t selling like they used to pre-pandemic. Farmers depend on dehydration plants to recoup some extra income after all their top potatoes are bagged, boxed or fried.
The incident eventually resolved without any reported injuries.