PENDLETON, OREGON, US — With flour milling roots in Pendleton, Oregon, US, dating back almost 80 years, Grain Craft is “heartbroken” by the devastating blaze Aug. 10 that severely damaged the company’s flour mill there, said Peter T. Frederick, president and chief executive officer of Grain Craft.
In a message to the community of Pendleton, Frederick said the company did not yet “fully understand the cause and circumstances” of the fire. He expressed gratitude that there were no injuries in the fire and to Pendleton first responders as well as to the mill’s neighbors for their patience and support.
The Pendleton mill for much of its history was owned by Kerr-Pacific Corp., Portland, Oregon., and predecessor companies owned by the Kerr family. Kerr, Gifford & Co., in 1943 acquired a flour mill in Pendleton, known as the Walters Flouring Mills, a facility dating back to the 1890s. The mill was destroyed by fire in 1945. In the 1970s, Kerr Grain Co. acquired Collins Flour Mills in Pendleton, a mill built in 1919.
From 1937 until it was acquired by Kerr Grain, the flour mill was operated by General Foods Corp. In 2001, the Pendleton mill and two others owned by Kerr-Pacific became part of a joint venture with Milner Milling. The entire business was renamed Grain Craft in 2014 following the acquisition of Cereal Food Processors. In late June of this year, Grain Craft announced it would be acquired by Redwood Capital Investments, LLC.
Frederick’s message follows:
"Yesterday a fire caused substantial damage to our flour mill in Pendleton, Oregon. First and foremost, we are beyond grateful that no one was injured. The blaze required several hours and many teams of responders to bring it under control. While the situation is still active, we are working to fully understand the cause and circumstances.
"We would like to offer our sincere gratitude to everyone from the Pendleton Fire Department, Pendleton Police Department, many surrounding fire departments, public works and all first responders who were on the scene yesterday and throughout the night. Thank you for your service and dedication to the safety of the Pendleton community.
"We also want to recognize the impact this fire has had on our neighbors throughout the town and want to thank you for your patience and support as the fire was cleared. We are truly grateful to be surrounded by such a strong and supportive community. Our Grain Craft family appreciates your patience as we work through this unfortunate loss.
"We have been in touch with all our Pendleton mill team members to discuss areas of support in the coming weeks.
"The Pendleton flour mill began operation more than 100 years ago, and it was not only an important component in providing our customers flour, but it was also a significant piece of history for the city of Pendleton and for the milling industry. All of us at Grain Craft are heartbroken by the events of yesterday."