VALE — A fire decimated an 80-year old family run business in Vale on Saturday afternoon. Smoke coming from Dentinger Feed and Seed was reported at about 2:48 p.m. Saturday.
Nobody was inside the iconic white building at 165 Morton St. — that had red-and-white Purina Chow checkers around the top – when it was completely destroyed in the blaze. The nearby mill where the company processed grain, and the storage facility for feed for cattle, dogs, cats and other animals were also destroyed, according to Vale Fire Chief Jess Tolman. Also ravaged was a “little store off to the side for medications and hardware” as well as other products that the store stocked for farmers in the local area.
“It’s a total loss, the fire went through it all,” he said.
Tolman said he hadn’t had a chance to sit down with the owners yet to estimate the dollar amount of the loss.
On Saturday evening, Tolman said several fire crews were still on scene, and planned to be there through the night.
“At this time it’s a bunch of hot spots, there’s no active flames right now,” the chief said.
The hot spots were in areas where the building collapsed in on itself and in other spots where “feed was still smoldering,” Tolman said.
There were no fire hydrants in the immediate vicinity of the feed store, as the hydrant system in Vale “is not the greatest,” Tolman said. Because of this, he said, firefighters had to run 800 feet of 5-inch supply line to the nearest hydrant.
Gary Dentinger, a cousin of owner Rick Dentinger, was on scene watching his family’s business go up in flames. He said it is unknown how the fire started, but nobody was inside when it happened.
Vale Fire Department was the main agency on scene with a ladder truck and two pumper engines.
Several local agencies assisted, Tolman said. This included the Ontario Fire Department, who also brought a ladder truck as well as a brush engine and six firefighters; Fruitland Fire Department provided a pumper truck and crew of five; and Weiser Fire Department arrived with a crew of three and a third ladder truck.
The cause of the blaze is unknown. It will be “under investigation for a while,” according to Tolman, and the state fire marshal is scheduled to arrive Sunday.
For more than 80 years, Dentinger Feed and Seed has been a constant presence in Vale, and the Dentinger family’s fourth generation is participating in the business.
Stanley Dentinger founded the business in 1938, followed by his sons, Lindy and Gail Dentinger, who purchased it from him. Lindy Dentinger later bought out his brother. His son, Rick Dentinger, and daughter, Pam Hibbitts, were partners in 2014. Rick’s sons, Matt and Mike, are now co-owners with their dad, according to Gary Dentinger.
In eight decades, the basic business had not changed. Wheat was brought in and shipped out, mostly as exports. Other grains that were brought into the company were processed and sold out to farmers and ranchers as cattle feed. In 2014, Rick said most of the wheat was shipped overseas.
He said when his grandfather started the business, Stanley Dentinger would go out to farms in his car pulling a two-wheeled trailer to pick up grain. In later years, the wheat was put in sacks as it was combined and loaded onto trucks. Then it was taken to Dentinger’s, where the sacks were dumped. After the wheat was received in bulk, the main change has been newer trucks, with some growers using semi-trucks used to bring in the wheat.
Dentinger Feed and Seed’s customer base stretches as far as Burns, Unity, John Day and Jordan Valley, with a few people coming from Idaho.