A fire started around 1:30 p.m. at the cardboard recycling facility on South Highway 395 and spread to a nearby field. Around 5 p.m., crews were still out at the site, and fire officials said they would likely be out there for several hours.
Fire Marshal Tom Bohm said he didn’t know what had caused the fire or exactly how wide it had spread, and neither did the owner of the facility, Medelez Trucking.
More than 30 firefighters from Umatilla County Fire District, as well as fire departments from Umatilla, Pendleton, Boardman, Echo and East Umatilla County were on scene to help control the blaze. Bales of cardboard were engulfed in flames, and firefighters were filling large containers with water to help tackle the fire.
The Oregon Department of Transportation briefly shut down Highway 395 due to smoke crossing the roadway.
UCFD Battalion Chief J.W. Roberts said no structures were affected by the blaze, though he estimated $60,000 in losses for cardboard and $5,000 in equipment at the facility.
“It’s just a pain with this wind,” Roberts said. “These things don’t go out. This’ll burn all night.”
Roberts said the fire would likely continue to burn into the grass as well, so crews would probably just burn the whole field.
Crews responded to a fire at the recycling center last year as well, Roberts said.