Refrigerated Warehouse Fire Persists for Over 3 Weeks in Benton County, Washington

Risk Logic Inc. (RLI) is a consulting engineering company that provides Loss Prevention Services. Since 1997, we have been working in regions all over the world utilizing the most advanced and current standards.

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May 23rd, 2024

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Early Sunday around 5:15 a.m., April 21st, Benton County Washington dispatch received a call that the Lineage Logistics warehouse in Kennewick, WA had heavy smoke pouring out of a freezer in the building. All employees evacuated safely, and authorities issued a shelter-in-place order for the surrounding area. Lineage Logistics occupied the facility as a cold storage warehouse for frozen food and produce. Upon arrival, firefighters saw heavy smoke escaping the building and found several pallets burning in the freezer hallway. At about 1 p.m. the fire had extended into the roof and by 4 pm the fire had involved approximately half of the facility. Several brush fires ensued outside the building as nearby brush and trees were ignited by burning embers.

refrigerated warehouse fire

Investigators are still determining the cause of the massive fire. The Red Cross has assisted those who needed evacuation and will continue supporting them until they resolve the situation. The building was approximately 525,000 square feet in size, had a firewall and was provided with automatic sprinklers.

Firefighters struggled to reach some interior sections of the building due to the roof collapsing. Debris removal began over a month later as there were several hot spots and smoldering fires for over 3 weeks (as recent as May 14th) after the initial fire.

Lineage warehouse prior to the devastating fire.

Food processing facilities and refrigerated warehouses often include the use of ammonia refrigeration systems and combustible construction features including insulated metal panels with expanded plastic insulation. The facility was pronounced a total loss, despite reportedly having automatic sprinkler protection and at least one firewall. It is unknown if the provided sprinkler system design was adequate for the given storage commodities and configuration. It is also unclear whether the sprinkler systems underwent proper maintenance, or if combustible construction materials played a part in the fire.

Risk Logic engineers have the expertise to analyze the adequacy of the fire protection systems and their upkeep at your refrigerated warehouse. They will also provide guidance to limit fire exposures involved with refrigeration systems and combustible construction materials. Please contact RLI so we may work with your company to protect against fires such as this one. Routine inspections of fire hazards and fire prevention systems can significantly reduce risks to your company.

Please see our associated web articles on Automatic Sprinkler Protection for Refrigerated Warehouses and Protection Risks in Food Factories & Refrigerated Warehouses for more details.