Parkway Feed burns — again

By Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate December 17, 2013 04:57 pm

Fire crews stayed outside Saturday while fighting a fire at Parkway Feed after debris hit a firefighter battling flames on the inside.
Fire crews stayed outside Saturday while fighting a fire at Parkway Feed after debris hit a firefighter battling flames on the inside. Courtesy of Debra Wakefield
 Firewalls built after 2007 blaze save majority of store and its animals

Almost seven years after a fire burned down their business, Parkway Feed owners Diana O’Dell and husband Dewey Crager have to rebuild once again.

On Saturday morning around 9:15 a.m., O’Dell received a call from her son informing her the store was on fire. She replied by saying that’s not a funny joke before quickly realizing it wasn’t one at all. 

The fire began around 8:30 a.m., likely in a room in the center of the building where crickets were held, said Fire Chief Steve Wakefield.

“Our thinking this time is some sort of electrical failure from the heat lamps that were in the cricket room,” said Wakefield. 

The center of the building was engulfed when fire crews arrived, Wakefield said.

Parkway Feed co-owner Dewey Crager surveys damage to the store’s middle section.
Parkway Feed co-owner Dewey Crager surveys damage to the store’s middle section. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
 Firefighters made entry into the building to douse the flames, but that was shortlived after one of the volunteers was grazed by something that fell, Wakefield said.

“We pulled everyone out at that point and just started fighting from the outside,” said Wakefield. “The roof collapsed fairly quickly after we got there.”

45 firefighters from Crescent City Fire Protection District, Crescent City Volunteer Fire Department as well as Gasquet, Smith River and Fort Dick fire protection districts responded to the fire.

An engine and water tender were used as well as hose running about 1,500 feet from the nearest fire hydrant, located on Railroad Avenue.

The Local Community Emergency Response Team was also activated to monitor water intake and make sure no firefighters were overextending themselves, Wakefield said.

“They’re handy to have at a scene like that because we don’t have to worry about that,” said Wakefield.

At times flames extended about 10 to 15 feet above the roof, said Wakefield, adding that it took a couple of hours to fight the fire.

Fire crews battle the blaze.
Fire crews battle the blaze. Courtesy of Debra Wakefield
 After a 2007 fire that started in a warehouse containing mounds of hay completely destroyed the building, the new building included firewalls that separated sections of the store.

“We were able to contain the fire at the firewall,” said Wakefield. “It played out a little better than last time because we saved more probably due to the newer construction.”

On Monday, the ash-covered rubble and a few shelves were among the remains of the middle section of the building. 

Diana O’Dell set up computers and the surviving animals in a back warehouse on the property.

There were reptiles, mice, a bunny and Taz Marie, the O’Dell family’s beloved blue and gold macaw. 

She was still a bit soot covered, but survived — again. Crager had rescued her in the 2007 fire, though all of their other animals were lost. 

“She’s a little traumatized again,” said O’Dell. 

Fire crews rescue animals from Parkway Feed.
Fire crews rescue animals from Parkway Feed. Courtesy of Debra Wakefield
 This time around firefighters were able to access most of the animals by breaking a window near where they were held and pulling them out. All but some breeding mice were saved.

O’Dell and Crager have begun rebuilding already. Business will be conducted in the warehouse on the back end of the property, and by the week’s end livestock feed  and pet food should be available as shipments will begin arriving today, O’Dell said.

“I’ve been on the phone since 6:30 a.m.,” said O’Dell, who was making orders.  “We had the first fire and that was devastating. Now this is like old hat. I’ve already done it once.”

And they are equipped with more space this time around, in the prior fire they were working out of a trailer and held products in a storage container.

Once the insurance details are sorted out, they plan on constructing a new building, O’Dell said.

“Life is okay, God only dishes out what you can handle,” said O’Dell.

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