Investigators considering arson in DCI fire
An investigation into a fire that destroyed a local business' headquarters continues and the possibility that an arsonist is behind the blaze has not been ruled out.
Personnel from the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue District have joined forces with officers from the Newberg-Dundee Police Department in investigating the fire that broke out around 2:30 a.m. April 10 at DCI International, a dental manufacturing company and one of Newberg's largest employers.
Fire personnel numbering more than 60 from four fire agencies were dispatched to the company's headquarters at 305 N. Springbrook Road to find the building, formerly owned by PGE, fully engulfed in flames. Firefighters were aided by personnel from the Yamhill County Sheriff's Office, Newberg-Dundee Police Department, Newberg public works, PGE, NW Natural and ODOT.
"Firefighters began aggressive fire attack measures to keep the flames contained to the 33,000-square-foot structure, preventing any spread to other nearby facilities (over the course of two hours)," a release from TVF&R said. A PGE building is located just north of the DCI complex.
DCI's steel- and timber-constructed building was deemed a total loss, with damages estimates set at between $5 million and $7 million.
Investigators from the fire and police departments, as well as a private investigator hired by the company's insurer, are looking into the 911 call that elicited the response from firefighters.
"According to investigators, just prior to discovering the fire, the 911 center received a suspicious call for medical aid at the nearby Fred Meyer store," a release from TVF&R said. "Emergency personnel did not locate the caller at the location they claimed to be and instead observed the smoke coming from the nearby DCI building. The two incidents are believed to be related and the fire scene is being investigated as a possible arson."
The investigation is hampered by the instability of the large structure, said Stefan Meyers, a public information officer for TVF&R. "Part of that is to get heavy equipment in there as the scene is really unsafe at this point," he added.
Meyers explained how the investigators would go about their task once they can access the scene: "And so they're going to start working from the least burned to the most burned analyzing burn patterns and corroborating some of the witness testimony they have as they work through that process. So, a lot of that coordination is taking place this week and next week. They're going to be doing a lot, making sure everybody's on the same page and moving forward."
DCI officials shared with their employees the bad news via its LinkedIn page the following day:
"With heavy hearts we share the news that our parts assembly building experienced a fire on Sunday, April 10. This building housed our DCI parts division for over 30 years and proudly shipped out millions of parts orders. Fortunately, DCI occupies 10 buildings and most of the parts inventory is stored in a different location, not impacted by the fire. We are certain we will be up and running quickly. Our employees and customer are our priority."
Company officials led the three members of the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners on a tour of the wreckage last week.
"(It's) a heart-breaking loss for the company, for the employees and for the community," Commissioner Casey Kulla said. "This was the most striking large structure fire I've stood next to."
Kulla said the county will help the company in any way possible.
"We're offering logistical help with employees, ride-shares and cooperation with the state," he said. "There was conversation about an emergency declaration, but it was not needed or appropriate. I've been brainstorming with city staff about land use options for relocating DCI within the city. I've committed to whatever help or connections I can make, to get them up and running again within a month."
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