Eagles lodge catches fire
Video on YouTube
By Phil Wright
of the East Oregonian
PENDLETON – The Fraternal Order of the Eagles’ building at the corner of South Main Street and Southeast Emigrant erupted into flames at about 3:30 p.m. and sent billowing black smoke spewing from doorways.Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal Tyler Nokes said it was too early to tell what caused the fire.
The Pendleton Fire Department was the first on the scene, with a truck at the corner of South Main Street and Southeast Frazer Avenue, and another parked near the building, also on Frazer. Firefighters from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and Pilot Rock also responded.
Bartender Monica Powell was the only employee in the Eagles. She said some type of problem with the popcorn machine led to the destructive blaze.
Powell said she had turned on the popcorn machine, but hadn’t added any oil or popcorn.
She then made a phone call to cocktail waitress Gail McDaniel and within just a couple of minutes Powell said she could see smoke coming from the popcorn machine, but couldn’t determine why.
She then hastily hung up the phone, went to the machine and opened the plastic doors. That’s when she saw the machine spark and heard a loud “pop.”
“Then there were flames,” she said, still visibly shaken from the experience.
Powell didn’t run out, however.
Instead, she found the fire extinguisher, but said she couldn’t remove the pin to make it operable. That’s when she ran to the door and yelled for help.
A stranger answered her call.
Powell said a large man in a blue shirt came to her aid, removed the pin and tried to put out the spreading flames. The man then took her outside.
McDaniel came to the building after her friend hung up. She, like the crowd lining Frazer and Main Street could only watch as firefighters went to work.
McDaniel also tried to track down the stranger, but to no avail.
Fire crews continued to fight flames as of 4:30 p.m., when fire and police units shut down all surrounding side streets, to avoid interferance with the ongoing attempts to knock down the blaze.
Flames have spread from the Eagles to the entire building.
However, according to Pete Wells, acting public information officer, flames have not spread to Craig Office Supply.
“The guys on the scene are really hopeful it will stay in the building it started,” Wells said.
From glimpses between fire trucks on South Main Street it appeared the fire had destroyed the Smith’s Shoe Repair and Coffee Bean.
Firefighters are working to keep the fire from spreading by cooling the wall between Craig Office Supply and the adjoining structure.
Hermiston Fire Department Lt. Dale Ternes said as of about 5:50 p.m. Pendleton has requested Hermiston help with refilling air bottles. But Ternes said Hermiston Fire anticipates having to relieve firefighters as they become fatigued.
“We’ve told them already we have more people here if they need it. They just have to ask,” Ternes said.