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 council looking at nearly 4% tax increase for 2019

Policing, bridge rehabilitation and impending cruise ship visits all jostling for funding

City of Port Alberni cancels tourist train operations for 2019

Steam train to McLean Mill is out of commission for repairs; city wants to re-examine rail costs

BUSINESS BEAT: New board room at Steampunk Café has nautical flair

Teresa Bird writes about business happenings once a month in the Alberni Valley News

ARTS AROUND: Artists invited to exhibit work at Port Alberni gallery

The Rollin Art Centre is now accepting applications for the 2020 calendar year

Port Alberni millwright brings Beatles’ iconic yellow submarine to life for ice show

Beatlemania is set to take the ice on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Alberni Valley Multiplex

70% of Canadians agree with mandatory vaccines for children: poll

The debate for pro and anti vaccinations has heated up after a measles outbreak in Vancouver

Vancouver Island petition to decriminalize all drugs continues to collect signatures

A Courtenay couple is collecting signatures for their petition to decriminalize drugs in Canada

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

‘A little baloney’ in PM’s claim about solicitor-client privilege on SNC-Lavalin

The Conservatives and NDP want Trudeau to waive that privilege so Wilson-Raybould can offer her side of the story

Proposed edible pot rules are wasteful, would leave products tasteless: critics

When Canada legalized weed last fall, it only allowed fresh or dried bud, oil, plants and seeds

Samsung folding phone is different – but also almost $2,000

But most analysts see a limited market for foldable-screen phones

Most Read