Coffee plant damaged

Fire was blamed on a buildup of creosote in Mellelo Coffee Roasters' chimney
Medford firefighter Randy Horner rescues some of Mellelo's coffee beans from a roaster fire and the water used to douse the fire in the Central Point coffeemaker’s offices.Bob Pennell

CENTRAL POINT — A fire broke out in the coffee bean roaster and chimney at Mellelo Coffee Roasters on Third Street in Central Point Tuesday.

Fire District 3 Deputy Fire Marshal Mark Moran said the fire was likely caused by a creosote buildup, similar to that which occurs in a fireplace flue.

"Initially it was pretty nasty smoke," Moran said, adding that he could see the thick billowing smoke as he left White City for the call.

"We'll definitely have some roasted beans in this one."

Central Point's Fire District 3 received the call at 10:04 a.m. and responded immediately. Medford firefighters also responded, and a total of six engines and 25 employees attended the call.

Moran said the fire was contained in the chimney, and firefighters were able to put it out quickly. He said roaster chimney fires are common, and Mellelo's does a good job of keeping on top of maintenance.

"Over time it's just like a woodstove, it starts building creosote," he said.

Employees at Mellelo's, at 30 S. Third St., were evacuated from the building. There were no injuries, but company owner Sal Mellelo said the damage was severe.

"There was some extensive damage to the roaster," Mellelo said.

Darlene Peters, who is the mother of co-owner Tami Peters, said she was upstairs when the room started to fill with smoke.

"The owner came up and told everybody to get out," Darlene Peters said. "Smoke was pouring out of the building."

The Mellelo offices and roasting plant are in Central Point's former fire station. Greg Winfrey, battalion chief for Fire District 3, was a firefighter there from 1974 to 1981.

He said he was quite familiar with the area the fire was in.

"The fire pole area — they use that as the chimney pole for the roaster," he said.

In addition to the roasting business, Mellelo owns four retail stores in Medford.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail

Intern Bob Albrecht contributed to this report.

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