Grower and Employee Fire Updates

What happened?

On October 18, 2017, Underwood Fruit and Warehouse in Bingen Washington sustained a catastrophic fire that totally destroyed our pear packing operations. Fortunately, our apple packing line was saved and apple packing will continue as originally planned.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Thanks to all

I would like to thank all fire fighters and other support personnel that were devoted to this incident. Without their quick response, thinking and hard work, we would have lost much more than just our packing line.

I also want to thank the City of Bingen and, especially, Mayor Betty Barnes. Mayor Barns and her staff were instrumental in our response to the fire by providing a conference room to use as a local command post. Without her assistance, we would not have been able to manage an appropriate response to support our customers, growers and employees.

Finally, I want to thank my management team and all employees. They worked long hours, tirelessly, to ensure that our response to this event was quick, efficient and effective for all involved.

We are still open for business

I want to assure our growers and customers that we stand ready, able and capable to continue our pear packing operations.

Our industry partners have been critical in the resumption of our packing operations.  So far, we have sent pears to Stadelman Fruit and Lage Orchards in Oregon, Congdon Orchards in Yakima Washington and Matson Fruit in Selah Washington and will continue to do so for the remainder of the season.  

With their help, we will be able to successfully pack pears for our growers under our label thus maintaining our position in the world pear market.

Future Plans

Underwood Fruit and Warehouse has long enjoyed a prominent place in the pear industry and the Columbia Gorge. We have grower, customer and employee relations that have lasted for over 62 years.

As a result, we are designing a new packing facility cold storage warehouse and shipping dock. Our pear packing will resume as soon as possible.

Future Updates

Please come back to our website to see how the new Underwood Fruit progresses. We will post periodic updates and new information as it comes available.

Despite what happened, we will be back, we will rebuild and we will be open for business.

~Don Gibson and the Underwood Team~

Employee Update web link

Welcome to all Underwood Employees!!

We appreciate all of your hard work and dedication to our company.  It is a great honor to have you a part of our team.

Underwood Management has been hard at work trying to minimize the effect that the fire has had on your work schedule.  We know that this time hasn’t been easy for anyone.  We all have lost a piece of our company as a result of the fire.  However, with all of us working together as a team, we believe that we will come out of this event better and stronger than ever.

Underwood Fruit and Warehouse has long enjoyed a prominent place in the pear industry.  Despite what has recently happened, we will be back, we will rebuild and we will be open for business.

Medical Benefits – The Worker Adjustment Retraining Notice (WARN) Act mandates that medical coverage will be continued to affected employees for 60 days after the layoff.  As a result, employees that are either laid off or working for another company will be covered under our insurance plan until January 1st.  In order to maintain your insurance coverage, you will still be required to pay your normal monthly premium.

Fire Investigation Status – At this point, the cause of the fire has not been determined.  Investigators have finished their examination and are trying to conclude the cause.  Unfortunately, this process is lengthy.