Fire crews from Port Alberni, Beaver Creek, Sproat Lake and Cherry Creek fire departments responded to a fire inside Alberni Pacific Division (APD) Mill in Port Alberni late Tuesday night (Feb. 6).
The fire started near the conveyors that drop chips from the hog fuel into a bin, Port Alberni Fire Chief Kelly Gilday said. “It started in that bin. It had been smouldering in the sawdust before we arrived,” he added.
“Access was a little difficult to get to it.” The fire created smoke visible to homes and onlookers driving around South Port but the blaze was quickly contained, Gilday said. A small crew from the PAFD was still mopping up hot spots at 11 p.m., but other crews had been released from the scene.
“No estimate on damage yet, but from what we’ve seen the mill should be operational in the morning,” he added.
Western Forest Products spokesperson Babita Khunkhun said there were no injuries in the incident. “The fire was quickly contained and we started up operations as scheduled this morning,” she said.
“The safety of employees is our top priority.”
The call came in shortly before 9 p.m., when smoke set off the alarms at APD; because the fire had the potential to be large and complicated, it triggered the automatic aid call between the volunteer fire departments in the region, Gilday said. Cherry Creek Fire Dept. has rejoined the automatic aid callout system as of late in 2017.