Fire at Alberni’s Somass Mill prompts mutual aid call

Three fire departments responded to a fire at Western Forest Products' Somass Mill on Port Alberni's waterfront.

Fire crews from three stations in Alberni attended the site of Western Forest Products Somass Mill

Fire crews from three stations in Alberni attended the site of Western Forest Products Somass Mill

A two-alarm fire at Western Forest Products’ Somass Mill drew firefighting crews from Port Alberni, Sproat Lake and Beaver Creek, Monday afternoon.

The fire started near the edger or the planer inside the mill and was shooting flames high into the air, a mill employee said. There was also concern the fire had spread through the dust system, but that was not confirmed.

Mill staff had the majority of the fire already under control by the time fire crews arrived, incident commander Deputy Chief Chris Jancowski said.

“Mill staff did an excellent job trying to cut down the fire prior to the fire crews’ arrival with wash down hoses,” he said.

There is also a sprinkler system in the mill that kicked in when the fire started. Fire crews then checked for hot spots among the sawdust.

There were no injuries to staff or firefighters, Jancowski said.

Crews were still on scene shortly before 4 p.m. using a thermal imaging camera to try and find hot spots to douse, Jancowski said. Sproat Lake and Beaver Creek crews were released at 4 p.m. to return to their districts.

It was too early for anyone to determine what started the fire, he added.

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