Maple Ridge firefighters shoot water from distance at a fire which started around 1 a.m. Wednesday at a cedar mill on River Road.

Fire destroys Maple Ridge mill

Flames engulfed a large portion of Imperial Cedar Products on River Road early Wednesday

A fire tore through a sawmill early Wednesday in Maple Ridge, destroying a large section of a cedar operation located along the Fraser River.

The blaze at Imperial Cedar Products on River Road started around 1 a.m.

When firefighters arrived on scene, they were greeted by multiple explosions and found a building completely engulfed in flames.

Paul Christensen works for Supreme Structural Transport, a business adjacent to the mill, and lives in a house on site. His girlfriend woke him up around 1 a.m. after a series of loud booms.

Christensen believes the fire started just as the mill’s night shift ended.

No one employees were injured.

“My girlfriend saw a couple of people running away,” he said.

When Christensen looked outside, he saw a wall of fire.

“The flames were a good 30 feet tall,” said Christensen.

“There was not much we could do.”

When a Hydro pole ignited and started sparking, firefighters moved Christensen and his girlfriend off the adjacent property.

They were allowed to returned around 2:30 a.m., after the fire was under control.

The Maple Ridge Fire Department remained on scene Wednesday, putting out hot spots.

Assistant fire chief Mark Smitton confirmed the fire was called in by workers who were coming off the night shift. The mill, which employees 25 people, makes cedar roofing and siding products.

Eight fire trucks and 30 firefighters were on scene at the height of the fire.

Smitton said the cause of the fire is still unknown. He expected to remain at the site for the next two days.

He added the mill was completed destroyed by the fire and will have to be rebuilt.

A year ago, Waldun Forest Products in Ruskin was destroyed in a blaze sparked by a faulty electrical switch.

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