Damage is estimated at between $4 and $5 million in the fire that engulfed the Franklin County Grain Growers building in Preston Wednesday afternoon. Franklin County Fire District Battalion Chief Scott Martin says at first it was believed the fire was started by an overheated bearing on a conveyor but now it does not appear to be the case so investigation is continuing. “The production area was totaled,” Martin says. Martin says the fire was extremely hard to fight because of the wood structure and grain dust. There were some areas, he says where it was too dangerous to send the firefighters. “We had wind early on and that didn’t help at all,” he continues. “The structure and the contents of the building, with the grain dust and heavy equipment, we couldn’t risk putting firefighters in there so we went defensive.” The fire has left the whole community, especially the agricultural sector, feeling devastated. Robert Swainston, a member of the board of directors for Valleywide Graingrowers Cooperative, says not only did the organization serve the farmers in many different capacities it was also an 82-year-old landmark on Preston’s State Street. So what happens now? “We’ll meet…and make some determinations as to whether to rebuild and where to rebuild,” Swainston says. “Until that happens it’s going to be a shock to the agriculture community up here. “It’s a home for the barley and the wheat. There will be a lot of unanswered questions for 48 hours.” He says fortunately the mixing plant is still there and for the time being the grains will be processed somewhere else. Martin says that 55 firefighters assisted to help put out the Wednesday blaze. Those from Cache County came from Logan, North Logan, Smithfield, Richmond, Lewiston, Trenton, and the Cache County Fire District. Firefighters remained on scene through the night Wednesday and continued working on the structure Thursday trying to put out hot spots. “The chemical storage is still in tact and some of the surrounding buildings and the store,” Martin says. “There were a lot of structures saved around it.” The building, which has been a landmark on Preston’s State Street, is considered to be a total loss. There were no injuries in the blaze.
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