Workers at the Hammond Cedar Mill were sent home early on Tuesday after a spark given off by a saw blade set two saw rooms on fire.
The fire started shortly after 12 p.m. when the spark set saw dust on fire in one saw room and then travelled through the dust collection system into a second saw room setting it on fire.
“So, when the fire department arrived there were two saw rooms on fire and fire within the ducting of the mill,” says fire chief Peter Grootendorst of the Maple Ridge fire department.
Mill employees had pulled fire hoses and were attacking the fire when fire trucks arrived on scene.
“Mill employees did a good job of fighting the initial fire and knocking down the initial fire in the saw rooms,” says Grootendorst. “But, what happened is that eventually it became too smokey for them to continue to operate without an air pack and by that time the fire department arrived and we took over.”
“We had to basically chase the fire through the ducting because it was saw dust in the dust removal system, which is a large duct work, and the fire was burning in the saw dust residue,” says Grootendorst. “So we had to keep cutting holes and taking down pieces of the ducting in order to chase the fire and extinguish it.”
Nobody was hurt in the blaze that kept the Maple Ridge fire department on scene for four hours.
Six firetrucks, 22 fire fighters, 4 officers and BC ambulance were on scene.
RCMP did traffic control in the area and made sure all employees were accounted for.
The Pitt Meadows fire department sent a fire truck to Maple Ridge firehall #3 to stand by in case there were other calls in the district.
There may be some people off work tomorrow since some parts of the mill will be able to open but other parts will be closed, says Grootendorst.
“(The mill) should be back in full operation within a couple of days.”