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Andersen Tower in Spanish Fork burns down

Oct 03, 2019 07:15PM ● By Arianne Brown

On Sept. 21, Wayne Andersen of Spanish Fork sat on a pile of bricks and watched as heavy machinery tore down what remained of more than 40 years of memories.

Just the day before, the Andersen Tower went up in flames with causes still unknown. And while the tower may have seemed to some to be an old dilapidated building—perhaps even an eyesore— Wayne Andersen says there was more than meets the eye.

The tower, he said, was built in 1967 by his father, Gerald Andersen, alongside his mother, Rhea Andersen, who owned a farming supply store. While many residents believe that it was a grainery, it was actually fertilizing blending plant that at the time was the most modern one in the country.

“The tower was created to mix and hold fertilizer to be distributed to farms throughout the area,” Andersen said. “It was built by my dad, Gerald Andersen through the Utah Cooperative Association, and was the most modern fertilizing blending tower in the country. It had 600 tons of overhead storage capacity in eight separate bins, and could blend any mixture that farmers wanted.”

According to Andersen, the plant was a great service to the community until the year 2000, when the family sold the property and it ceased operation.

“The plant did a lot to benefit the area,” he said. “It served most of southern Utah County, Elberta, Sanpete and Millard County. The fertilizer we distributed improved crops in the area, and some years we distributed over 10,000 tons of fertilizer. It really was a landmark in the community, started by a man—my dad— who had achieved the American Dream.”

Andersen spent 30 years working at the plant with his father and brother, and said when he heard about the fire, he went over to watch it. He said watching it burn was like watching years of memories go up in flames. Even so, he said he understands much of the community’s concern about the old building.

“We understand that it was becoming a situation where the building was dangerous,” Andersen said. “We’d heard of kids going inside it, and we didn’t want anyone to get hurt. We understood it was going to need to come down sometime.”

Even as terrible and devastating as the fire was, and how upset it made him and some members of the family to have it be destroyed the way it was, Andersen can’t help but have a little smile at the way it went down.

“I went over to my parent’s house on the Sunday after it happened,” he said. “My parents are 93- and 94-years-old, and when I talked to them, the one thing my dad said was that he remembered all it took to build it. I knew it was such a huge undertaking to build and that it had provided so many good years of service. The fact that it went up in flames of glory just went to show how great it really was. The tower made a statement going in and going out.

The fire investigation for now is still ongoing, and crews are working to clear the area to make it safe. (Brown is a Serve Daily contributor.)