Fire destroys Washington potato plant

USDA ARS Potatoes
Fears of an ammonia tank explosion caused evacuations, which were lifted this morning.

A massive fire destroyed a central Washington potato processing plant Thursday night, as fears of a potential ammonia tank explosure prompted resident evacuations that were lifted this morning.

The fire broke out in the Washington Potato Plant in Warden, about 100 miles southwest of Spokane, at about 5:30 p.m. in one of the dehydrators, The Associated Press reported. Employees made it out safely as the plant was engulfed, according to the wire service.

Among the building's contents was a large ammonia tank that firefighters feared would explode and spread toxic smoke in the region, the AP reported. Area residents were evacuated but let back in at around 1 a.m.

The cause is still under investigation. The plant is owned by the Pasco, Wash.-based Oregon Potato Co. and makes frozen and dehydrated potato products, according to its website.

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