Flames reached as high at the ceiling inside a Western Forest Products Alberni Pacific Division mill building as firefighters from three Valley departments battled the blaze on Saturday afternoon.
Crews from Port Alberni Fire Department, as well as Sproat Lake and Beaver Creek Volunteer Fire Departments were called to the fire at approximately 3:20 p.m. after three 911 calls.
At the mill, a light film of smoke could be seen emanating from a building at the entrance to the mill at the end of Harbour Road.
According to Acting Fire Chief Ian Ritchie, the fire was located in the cant quad infeed portion of the facility. The fire tripped the mill’s sprinkler system and mill personnel put several water hoses on it before firemen arrived.
“The flames got as high as the ceiling. We had to watch the upper beams because they’re dusty and were smoldering,” Ritchie said.
It took firemen two hours to douse the blaze and extinguish hot spots, Ritchie said.
The cause of the blaze in under investigation but there was some welding work done in the building before the fire broke out. “But are we 100 per cent certain that this was the cause — no,” Ritchie said.
The temperatures topped 37 Celsius and the Wildfire Management Branch fire rating for Port Alberni is classified as extreme. But the combustibility of wood materiel in the enclosed building was the most immediate danger, Ritchie said.
The last time firemen were called to APD was one year ago, Ritchie said.
The fire is the third at Port Alberni mills in one week.
Fire crews from three departments responded to two separate calls of embers being found in the enclosed piping of Somass Mill last week.
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