EDINBURG, N.D. - Edinburg lost nearly seven decades of history when four potato warehouses burned to the ground Friday morning.
Multiple fire departments responded shortly after 4 a.m. to the blaze at warehouses owned by J.G. Hall and Sons, one of the largest potato producers in the Red River Valley.
It’s unclear how the fire started, but the flames moved from one building to the next as firefighters tried to put out the fire in freezing temperatures and windy conditions.
Greg Hall, a partner in J.G. Hall and Sons, watched as the buildings collapsed over the course of the morning.
“It’s kind of a lot of history that’s lost for the town and us,” he said. “It’s going to be empty. Every time I drove to work in the morning, I went by there. That’s one of the first things you see when you come into town.”
The warehouses sit along the railroad tracks on the northeast corner of North Dakota Highway 32 and Third Avenue. The Hall family first constructed a potato washing building at that spot in 1950, when the producers started washing and packaging potatoes.
Based in Hoople, N.D., the Halls had farmed in the Valley long before they formed their company. Over time, they added to the Edinburg facility.
An Edinburg resident spotted the flames, Hall said. No one was inside the building when the fire started and no injuries were reported, he added.
The Halls stopped using the warehouses to wash potatoes several years ago and instead stored equipment there, Hall said, adding there wasn’t a lot of equipment there.
Strong winds that gusted more than 30 mph hampered efforts to fight the blaze, but firefighters kept the flames away from a propane tank, Hall said.
“It’s lucky they didn’t burn yesterday (Thursday) when the winds were 60 mph,” he said. Hall said he was thankful no one was injured, that no potatoes were destroyed and that the wind was blowing the smoke away from the city. “We had a really good group of firemen from the surrounding towns that were here,” he said.
Valley-Edinburg Public Schools have used the warehouses in the past to store buses there.
It’s unclear whether any buses were in the building at the time of the fire. Edinburg is about 75 miles northwest of Grand Forks.