One firefighter received medical attention for exhaustion but no APD personnel were injured during a fire that broke out at APD on Tuesday, March 3. Port Alberni Fire Chief TIm Pley said that crews responded to a fire alarm from APD at approximately 4:45 p.m. Port Alberni, Beaver Creek and Sproat Lake crews all responded to fire.
All of the city’s personnel responded to the blaze, Pley added.
“[There was] a lot of fire, a lot of smoke. The whole operating area of the operating floor of the mill had zero visibility,” Pley said shortly after 8 p.m.. “We entered the building, controlled the fire and in the end the fire was left in the walls and in the ceiling. We’ve been here for probably four hours now, tracing fire in the walls, in the ceiling… fire’s under control but it’s not fully extinguished yet.”
The fire is thought to have started in the headrig area, said Pley but added that no investigators had been into the mill yet. Pley said he couldn’t comment on why the fire had been as expansive as it was until investigations were completed.
Pley said that the last fire similar to this one at APD occurred approximately a decade ago.
Damage estimates aren’t know yet, Pley said but said that “in previous sawmill fires, we found that the damage was extensive in the electrical equipment” and that he wouldn’t be surprised to see that in this fire as well.
The length of the APD shutdown will depend on the extent of the damage.
“Until we get inside and access the damage the mill won’t be able to respond with a shutdown estimate. I know that they’re anxious to get back operating.”
Pley praised the Western Forest Products staff at the mill, saying that “excellent to work with at these emergencies.”
According to Amy Spencer, director of communications & government relations, the “cause and extent of damage are unknown at this time.”
Three firefighters will remain at the scene with a fire truck to make sure no hot spots reignite.