Maple Ridge mill damaged in weekend fire

Maple Ridge fire department believes the fire started as a result of welding that had taken place earlier in the day.

Welding is being blamed for sparking a fire that destroyed a section of a Maple Ridge sawmill early Saturday.

At 12:30 a.m., the Maple Ridge Fire Department received multiple 911 calls about the blaze at Fraser Cedar Products, located on Lougheed Highway west of 280th Street.

Electrical arcing from the mill’s high voltage power lines illuminated the sky for miles and the building that housed the “chipper unit” was engulfed in flames by the time crews arrived.

“Fire fighters were able to contain the fire to the building of origin and prevent the flames from damaging the main portion of the saw mill, that employs close to 100 people,” said fire chief Dane Spence.

The mill’s fire pump, designed to supply water from the river, had been removed for service a week earlier so water had to be ferried to the site via tanker trucks.

Crews from all three fire halls in Maple Ridge were called in to fight the blaze and the Mission Fire Department assisted by sending two tankers.

The fire disrupted rail traffic while trucks shuttled water back and forth.

In my world, we judge our successes by what doesn’t burn after our arrival.  So by that standard, the efforts were a great success, Spence added.

Investigators believe the fire started as a result of welding that had taken place earlier in the day.

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