This history of industry in Hood River is inextricably linked with major fires. On July 29, 1939 there was a major fire at the Big 7/ Kelly Brothers buildings, and Howard E. Jones documented it in several spectacular frames. This fire must have continued for quite some time after this image was taken, as the sequence ends with firefighters putting water on the ruins of these buildings late in the evening.
I can't quite make out the apparatus fighting this fire, but fortunately we have this great photo from the same era to give us some idea. Engine #3 (the Kenworth) may or may not have been in service by this date.
The Big 7 Building is now owned by the Port of Hood River and serves as the home for Gorge Networks and several other companies, but during this era it was cold storage for fruit. The building to the right is the Apple Growers Association Vinegar factory. The Kelly Brothers building was to the west of the Big 7 building, and is out of sight in this frame. It was also part of our local fruit industry.
Category: [Downtown Hood River]
The August 4, 1939 Mt Adams Sun says the WS fire department went over to help as did the Bingen fire department later in the day.
To prevent an explosion, Jack Evans, chief engineer of the apple association entered the burning warehouse and attached hoses to the ammonia tanks and drained 3,500 pounds of ammonia.
Part of the loss to the Kelly Brothers was $80,000 worth of three year old bottled brandy, bonded by the government.
A question was asked in a previous photo about the railroad roundhouse.
This article says "all Union Pacific roundhouse employees and others were routed from bed to help fight the fire."
l.e. on 30th January 2013 @ 8:03am
3500 pounds of ammonia (presumably ammonium hydroxide solution) must have made a serious hazardous chemical spill. Any idea where they drained it to. Not into the river, I hope. But back then that was probably not a serious consideration. Can anyone tel me just where the buildings were located? I don't know where Gorge Networks is.
db on 30th January 2013 @ 8:21am
It's on Industrial Street, up against the railroad tracks, just east of the Waucoma Center, and west of the Union Building.
Arthur on 30th January 2013 @ 9:10am
I wonder how much trouble there was with the government over the loss of the bonded liquor. I think there is a lot of suspicion over fire loses in that situation.
db on 30th January 2013 @ 9:28am
This was an extremely well documented fire. We know in addition to Howard E. Jones, Alva Day was there, probably Joe Young, and many others. One image of the smouldering aftermath clearly shows an enormous number of destroyed barrels, with the caption, "70,000 gals of brandy shot to hell!"
Arthur on 30th January 2013 @ 10:21am
Does anyone know the first names of the Kelly brothers. I can remember there was a very elderly Mr. Kelly that used to come to dinner at my parents. I have tried to remember his first name all day and can't come up with it.
Norma Jubitz Simpson on 30th January 2013 @ 1:33pm
I think the Kelly brothers may have been Fielding and Roy. Fielding passed away in 1936. His son Scott, born in 1917 was involved in the HR fruit industry.
l.e. on 30th January 2013 @ 3:16pm
So the back of fullsail is on our left, and the suicide corner that the centurion riders wipe out on is up the road just where it starts to get smokey.
AndrewB on 30th January 2013 @ 3:45pm
Yes, Norma is correct. Kelly Bros. was made up of Fielding and Roy Kelly. Fielding was my grandfather. In the mid 30's many of the Kelly Bros. shares had been sold. Fielding retired to Long Beach, WA and passed away shortly afterwards in 1936. Roy stayed in HR until the 1970's when he moved to Walport where another brother was living. He had a little orchard supply business in town where he sold fertilizers & other supplies to the farmers.
Joni Kelly Walker on 31st January 2013 @ 6:23pm
Roy Kelley was a bachelor and played the mandolin according to my mother.
Jill Stanford on 4th December 2013 @ 2:12pm
db, according to July 30,1939 issue of The Sunday Oregonian the ammonia was dumped into the Columbia River.
LMH on 26th January 2022 @ 10:34pm