Since 1947, the Grange Co-op grain elevator had been a beacon for miles around Central Point, Ore, but on the night of Oct. 12, 1961, it became a terrifying pillar of flame.
Fifty firefighters from Medford and Central Point fought the blaze. Water and the flames destroyed more than 1,500 tons of grain. Firemen detoured State Hwy 99 traffic around the area so hoses could be strung across the road to reach the fire. There was a momentary scare when water pressure suddenly dropped, but firemen connected to Medford water at an Elk Lumber Company hydrant. A lot happened behind the scenes. The Southern Pacific dragged freight cars out of danger, the power company shut off electricity, Don Faber opened his grocery store to the firemens’ auxiliary, and Melba’s Café opened at 3 a.m. to provide breakfast for the exhausted men. Paperboy Don Mundlin scored a scoop with his early morning deliveries by writing “Grange Coop Burning” across his papers, which had gone to press before the fire. By summer, the Grange had a new grain elevator that continues today to dominate the Central Point skyline.