The charred remnants of the San Group building on Nuupts’ ikapis Way. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

Fire crews battle industrial fire at San Group construction site in Port Alberni

Four fire departments called out to help extinguish blaze

An industrial fire has caused significant damage to a building on the site where San Group is building a remanufacturing plant in Port Alberni.

Fire crews from Port Alberni, Beaver Creek Volunteer Fire Dept., Cherry Creek VFD and Sproat Lake VFD responded to the blaze next to Paper Excellence Canada (formerly Catalyst Paper) at Stamp Avenue and Roger Street at approximately 2 a.m. on Wednesday, April 29. Stamp Avenue was closed to all traffic while crews were on scene. The initial call came from a local passerby.

“The caller reported that there were flames coming through the roof at that time, and certainly when we arrived on scene, we found the same,” said Port Alberni Fire Department fire chief Mike Owens. “Crews were able to quickly establish a water supply and start working on the fire.”

The fire was brought under control a couple of hours later without spreading to any other buildings. Fire crews remained on scene overhauling the fire to ensure nothing flared up again.

It is not known if anyone was on site at the time of the fire, but there were no reported injuries. The cause of the fire is currently unknown. Owens said he is not if there was power to the building at the time of the fire.

“At this point we’ve invited the Office of the Fire Commissioner to attend the scene and assist us in our investigation,” said Owens. “It is a large fire ground and complex investigation, so we want to make sure that we get it right.”

San Group owns 25 acres next to the paper plant, and have spent months and millions of dollars building a remanufacturing facility. They announced late last week that they have also purchased the former Chalwood Forest Products sawmill and are transforming it to cut specialty pieces of lumber in a variety of wood species.

READ: San Group’s remanufacturing plant takes shape in Port Alberni

The building that burned down had housed a finger jointer.

San Group owner Kamal Sanghera said the fire is just a minor setback for their remanufacturing facility.

“We lost a couple of machines, but we’ll do our best to get it back online again,” he said on Wednesday morning.

An engineer is already on site, he added.

The fire will not be affecting any jobs for San Group employees. Most of the employees have been transferred to the Chalwood mill so they can keep their hours, Sanghera said.

“It’s one step backward,” said Sanghera. “But we’ll turn it into a positive.”

RELATED: San Group buys specialty sawmill in Port Alberni

This is the second structure fire in two days that the Port Alberni Fire Department has responded to. In the early hours of Tuesday, April 28, they responded to a duplex fire on 14th Avenue that displaced one family.



susie.quinn@albernivalleynews.com

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