Spectators watch fire crews contain fire Saturday afternoon at Dentinger Feed and Seed. (The Enterprise/Carolyn Agrimis)

VALE – Fire struck the downtown grain mill of Dentinger Feed and Seed Saturday afternoon, destroying the long-time granary that is a community landmark.

Vale Fire Chief Jess Tolman said the blaze was reported at 2:48 p.m. at 165 Morton St. E., about two blocks north of one of Vale’s main streets.

Seve Yraguen, who works at the lumber yard operated by Dentinger Feed, said he and coworkers got into the mill store to grab critical paperwork before the building was consumed by flames. The store was closed at the time, he said.

Yraguen said it appeared the fire started in the grain tower, which dramatically collapsed while ablaze. It fell onto an adjoining warehouse.

Scott Hall Jr. of Vale said he and friend were returning to Vale when they saw "little puffs of black smoke coming out of the tower." He said they drove around the block to reach the granary.

"We rolled down the window and you could smell the smoke," Hall said in a message to the Enterprise. "Just as we did that, one of the firefighters was driving by looking at it and raced for the station."

Hall said his brother, Tanner, who was in the group recognized the man as a local firefighter.

Fire crews and equipment responded from Vale, Ontario, Brogran, Weiser and Fruitland to fight the blaze, working in 100-plus degree heat.

The black plume from the fire could be seen for miles as the sheriff's office closed off streets around the fire scene.

The family-owned business was founded in 1938 by Stanley Dentinger, who wanted to provide quality seed and feed to eastern Oregon farmers and ranchers.

The family earlier this year acquired what was once Olsen's Lumber, a hardware and lumber operation. Retail feed sales were shifted from the granary to the new location. 

Carolyn Agrimis: [email protected] or 503-840-7070. Reporters Pat Caldwell and Kristine de Leon contributed to this report.

Photo courtesy of Troy Villegas

The Enterprise/Carolyn Agrimis

The Enterprise/Carolyn Agrimis

Photo courtesy of Ann Smith

Photo courtesy of Randy Seals

Photo courtesy of Drew Bixby

The Enterprise/Carolyn Agrimis

The Enterprise/Carolyn Agrimis

The Enterprise/Carolyn Agrimis

A shower of water from a fire hose descends on Fruitland Fire Department firefighter Brett Smith as he takes a break from battling the blaze at Dentinger Feed and Seed Saturday afternoon. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Clason

Smoke drifts in front of the remains of Dentinger Feed and Seed's grain warehouse Saturday afternoon after a fire erupted. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

A firefighter with the Ontario Fire Department throws water on a fire at Dentinger Feed and Seed's grain warehouse Saturday afternoon. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

A previous version of this story had the fire chief's name listed as Jeff, not Jess. Jess Tolman is his correct name. The Enterprise apologizes for the error caused in editing.