Fire Destroys Columbia Spas Building

Cailley Hammel Headshot
photo of Columbia Spa fire
Photo courtesy Tabbie Coulter

A fire destroyed one of Columbia Spa’s two manufacturing plants in Jefferson, Ore., Thursday night. The fire was caused by a baseboard heater that, once aflame, engulfed the building in 90 minutes. According to sources, about 45 firefighters arrived to manage the flames on the 25,000-square-foot building. No one was injured in the incident. 

“It’s unfortunately a devastating blow to us and the community,” says Columbia Spas Sales Manager Bob Ovendale. “The main thing we need to do is stay focused, get everything handled and start the rebuilding process.”

Columbia Spas operates out of two buildings in the Jefferson location; while one was lost in the fire, the other, located just 10 feet behind the first, was spared. 

“The fortunate thing is 90 percent of our molds and thermoformer were in the back building. The Jefferson Fire District was very good at saving that building,” Ovendale says. “That saved us. 

The company’s six employees plan to stay with Columbia Spas and will file for unemployment until operations are again underway, which Ovendale says may take up to two months. The company plans to level what remains of the building and eventually build a new plant. In the meantime, Columbia Spas will seek another site for short-term production purposes. Despite the two-month wait, Ovendale says Columbia retailers are sticking with the company. 

“I’ve talked to all my dealers, and they‘ve told me they’re happy with our product and they’re going to wait for us,” he says.“I was fortunate enough to have a few of my dealers who had product ordered go over to other dealers and buy product from them.”

Ovendale says he's thankful for the silver lining in the incident: the support Columbia Spas has received from fellow spa industry professionals. 

“We’ve had people say, ‘If you need any equipment, we’ll ship it to you, we’ll help you put it up, we’ll loan it to you until you get back on your feet.’ The vendors have said, ‘What do you need? We’re here.’ I’ve even had other manufacturers call me and say, ‘We have some extra equipment if you need it.’ There are some good things that are coming out of it,” Ovendale says. 

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