Catalyst Paper employees work to put out a fire in the No. 4 paper machine’s dryer while waiting for Port Alberni Fire Dept. firefighters to arrive, Monday morning (March 11). SUBMITTED PHOTO

Fire halts work at Catalyst Paper in Port Alberni

Plant is due for ownership change later this month

Fire crews from Catalyst Paper and the Port Alberni Fire Department spent Monday morning (March 11) extinguishing a fire that started in the dryer at No. 4 paper machine. Crews were called to the mill shortly after 7 a.m. and finally left the scene at approximately 12:30 p.m.

“It was a bit difficult to fully extinguish,” PAFD chief Mike Owens said. “We got it knocked down in a fairly short period of time.”

Firefighters stayed on site “out of an abundance of caution” to ensure the fire was out; industrial areas usually have hard-to-access places, and Owens said his crew wanted to ensure everything was out. They stayed on site as Catalyst employees restarted the fans, watching for flare-ups.

No one was injured in the fire, according to a mill employee.

Owens said the fire is still under investigation, but it’s looking like a mechanical failure caused something to “warm up”. The fire is not suspicious, he added.

Paper Excellence Canada Holdings Corporation will be taking over ownership of Catalyst Paper sometime later this month. In February the Canadian Competition Bureau cleared the British Columbia-based company to complete its purchase, which involves the purchase of all of the shares of Catalyst.

The companies announced the purchase in early October 2018.

Catalyst owns manufacturing facilities in Crofton, Port Alberni and Powell River, a distribution centre in Surrey and headquarters in Richmond. Catalyst manufactures 1.3 million tonnes of pulp and paper products for industrial packaging, food service, coated ground-wood, newsprint and directory papers.

Paper Excellence has five operating mills in Canada and two mills in France, producing NBSK pulp for the paper and tissue industry, and BCTMP for printing, board and packaging, for export to the Asian market.

“The acquisition has yet to be finalized,” Paper Excellence director of corporate communications Kathy Cloutier said.

“We anticipate mid-month.”

editor@albernivalleynews.com

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Smoke fills a portion of Catalyst Paper’s plant where the No. 4 paper machine is located. A fire began in the dryer at the paper machine on Monday, March 11. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Fire and ambulance crews respond to a fire in the No. 4 paper machine at Catalyst Paper on Monday, March 11. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Fire crews from Catalyst Paper and the Port Alberni Fire Dept. extinguish a fire that started in the dryer at the No. 4 paper machine, Monday, March 11. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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