Flames can be seen from part of the mill structure at Alberni Pacific Division Sawmill in Port Alberni

Western Forest Products mill fire under investigation

WorkSafe BC, the Port Alberni Fire Department and WFP are investigating a fire in the bag house at the APD mill in Alberni on Thursday.

Officials from WorkSafe BC are investigating the cause of a fire at the Alberni Pacific Division mill in Port Alberni.

WorkSafe investigators were at the mill on Friday, spokesperson Alley Skinner-Reynolds said. “Our officers are determining if there has been any violation of health and safety regulations and examining the cause of the fire,” Skinner-Reynolds said.

Fires aren’t uncommon at mills. But there is a heightened sensitivity about sawmill fires after workers were killed or injured in explosions at sawmills in Burns Lake and in Prince George this year.

A number of new measures were instituted at mills B.C. wide as a result of those incidents. “We’ll also be looking to see if those measures were adhered to,” Skinner-Reynolds said.

The Port Alberni Fire Department and Western Forest Products are conducting their own investigations as well. “We’re told that staff saw sparks emanating from a fan but we haven’t determined a cause yet,” Port Alberni Fire Chief Tim Pley said.

A mill official confirmed that a planer at the operation is out of service for a week but that the rest of the mill is operational.

On Thursday night, the Port Alberni Fire Department responded to calls about a blaze at APD at 5 p.m. Sproat Lake and Beaver Creek volunteer departments responded as part of an automatic mutual aid page at 5:20 p.m.

The fire was located in the sawdust cyclone, or bag house portion of the mill, Pley said.

Sawdust and woodchips are collected from throughout the mill and deposited via ducting and conveyor belt into the bag house, Pley said. “Fires are hard to get at when they are in there,” he said.

WFP staff stopped the air flow from fanning the flames, cut the power to the area then controlled the blaze before fire fighting personnel arrived.

From there, firefighters spent several hours extinguishing the blaze. They then inspected the ductwork, going through each hatch and dousing the inside with water to drown any glowing embers.

Firefighters remained on the scene for three more hours as a safety precaution, finally leaving the scene at 2 a.m., Pley said.

This is the third incident that firefighters have responded to this year at APD. One incident was a false alarm and another involved a fire started by hot works, Pley said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

North Island College entices international students to Alberni’s ECCE program

Port Alberni had seven international students in January 2019

Port Alberni’s bylaw department shifts from reactive to proactive

8.5 times more files being completed by bylaw officers

Port Alberni’s West Coast Rangers hold rendezvous

Three-day event featured historical re-enactment

Port Alberni Port Authority talks logistics for cruise ship visit

Some restrictions for pedestrians, boaters will be in place

Port Alberni’s ‘Army of Problem Solvers’ to the rescue

Facebook group gathers people who just want to help their neighbours

VIDEO: Protesters in Penticton gather to rally against sleeping-on-sidewalk bylaw

The proposed bylaw would outlaw sitting or lying on the city’s downtown sidewalks

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

Most Read