Substation Fire in Oregon Costs Farmers Up to $12 Million in Burned Wheat


THE DALLES, Ore. — Wheat farmer Paul Schanno is still tallying his losses after the devastating Substation Fire south of The Dalles.

Schanno has been here 77 years. He says he's seen a lot, but nothing life the Substation Fire.

“This fire was different than any fire we've ever had before,” Schanno said.

Pushed by strong winds, the Substation fire which began July 17, raced through the wheat fields of Wasco and Sherman counties, traveling as much as 16 miles in one day.

It is unclear exactly how much wheat burned here, but the Oregon Wheat Commission estimates between one and two million bushels. Priced roughly at $6 a bushel, the losses add up quickly.

The fire could end up costing farmers between $6 million and $12 million in lost product alone.

Related: Substation Fire destroys wheat farms during bountiful harvest

Schanno says he lost 1,100 acres, about one-third of his wheat harvest.

“Its hard for my son who runs the thing –they planted it–they knew it was good and its just not there anymore,” he said.

Schanno knows others lost more. He's proud of his son and others that pitched in to harvest wheat for the family of John Ruby, who died trying to save a neighbor's field.

Related: Man killed in Substation Fire was protecting neighbor's property, police say

“Even though they'd lost, you know everybody lost a lost. But they still have time, farmers have time for farmers. We're all part of a pretty close network,” said Schanno.

Now their new concern is the dust storms formed by the powdery dirt. Normally, the fields are covered with wheat. Even after harvest, a stubble is left to hold the precious dirt in place.

But after the fire, miles of fields are bare and the winds are not kind.

The Wasco County Sheriff’s office confirmed the investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing are not releasing any information at this time.

Source: KGW8 TV 

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