A five-alarm fire ripped through the Darigold butter production plant in Caldwell, ID Tuesday afternoon, prompting a large response by several area fire departments, local news organizations reported.
Crews dispatched to the scene after the blaze was reported to authorities at about 2:30 p.m., officials told KXLY. Caldwell Fire Marshal Alan Perry said in an Associated Press (AP) account that firefighters were able to control the flames by 5 p.m. and that 80 workers evacuated the structure safely.
Caldwell Fire Deputy Chief Steve Donahue observed in coverage by the Idaho Press that combustible dust may have fueled the fire.
“The plant itself produces dried milk,” Donahue stated. “So, there are dust products and also containers and things like that.”
No damage estimate is available, but a number of reports noted damage to the structure.
“Darigold is saddened to report that our plant in Caldwell, ID suffered fire damage. We are grateful for the prompt actions of our employees and that none were injured in the incident,” the company wrote in a post to its Facebook page. “Our hearts go out to our farmer-owners who depend on this plant for their livelihood. We are doing everything we can to re-route their milk to other facilities and are exploring other ways we can support our members until the plant reopens.”
Workers at the Caldwell plant will be offered temporary assignments to other company facilities, Darigold stated. The plant will remain shuttered as an investigation is carried out and repairs are made.
Darigold’s facility in Caldwell receives milk from producers and cream from the firm’s drying plants. The company’s website describes the location as “one of the largest butter churns in the US.” Bulk and specialty retail butter products are made at the site. Local news organizations also said the plant manufactures milk powder there.