Both the Port Alberni and Beaver Creek fire departments respond to a fire at Somass Mill on Port Alberni's waterfront

Dust fire averted at Alberni mill

A dust fire inside a building at WFP's Somass Mill drew firefighting crews from Port Alberni, Sproat Lake and Beaver Creek on Friday morning

A fire inside a building at Western Forest Products’ Somass Mill drew firefighting crews from Port Alberni, Sproat Lake and Beaver Creek on Friday morning.

The Port Alberni Fire Department responded to a 911 call about a fire at the mill shortly after 9:30 a.m.

“Mill staff told us there there embers in the system that is located around what they call the head rig,” fire chief Tim Pley said. “The embers were sparked by equipment failure and not human error.”

Pley described the apparatus as a pipe that runs through the mill with an air flow system that inhales dust, sawdust and hog and deposits it in a bin located at the rear of the mill where it is then trucked away.

The system is vast, enclosed and has the potential to be extremely combustible so staff shut down the machine and evacuated the mill, Pley said.

Fire and mill staff checked each hatch along the pipe for fire but found none. Officials also took the precaution of calling a truck loaded with sawdust that left the mill before the spark but the load was safe, Pley said.

The area was declared safe and mill operations were returned to normal just after 11 a.m.

The fire at the mill is the second in four months.

In April, a fire in an edger caused a two-alarm fire and response by three of the Valley’s fire departments. The blaze was quickly brought under control and no injuries were reported.

It’s better to err on the side of caution in such incidents, Pley said. A similar alarm at the Somass Mill approximately five years ago resulted in a large fire and injuries, he said.

“We recently lost two other mills in B.C. where dust explosions were a contributing factor. These things can flare and spread so fast,” Pley said.

reporter@alberniavlleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

Port Alberni’s bylaw department shifts from reactive to proactive

8.5 times more files being completed by bylaw officers

Port Alberni’s West Coast Rangers hold rendezvous

Three-day event featured historical re-enactment

Port Alberni Port Authority talks logistics for cruise ship visit

Some restrictions for pedestrians, boaters will be in place

Port Alberni’s ‘Army of Problem Solvers’ to the rescue

Facebook group gathers people who just want to help their neighbours

Hurricane Katrina inspires Alberni author’s new novel

Jacqueline Swann brings message of climate change to life with story of fictional journalist

New airline regulations bring compensation for tarmac delays, over-bookings

Some of the new regulations will roll out in July, while others are expected for December.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Cyclists can choose round trip from Comox to Nanaimo, or Alberni-Nanaimo-Comox

The Boomer’s Legacy British Columbia Bike Ride is back. In a couple… Continue reading

Volunteers already rescuing fry from drying creekbeds around Cowichan Lake

It’s early but already salmon fry are being left high and dry

Prepare yourself for tick season, says Island Health official

2017 saw three reported cases of Lyme disease

So, they found ‘Dave from Vancouver Island’

Dave Tryon, now 72 and living in North Delta, will reunite with long-ago travelling friends in Monterrey, Calif.

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Most Read