Massive fire at northern B.C. sawmill devours thousands of logs

CHETWYND (NEWS 1130) – A major fire at a sawmill in Chetwynd, in northern BC, may have destroyed hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars worth of raw logs.

The fire began in the log yard of the West Fraser Mill, just northeast of the village, at around 2:30 Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Allen Courtoreille says the wind carried sparks from one pile to another. “It was in one spot, then it moved. Logs, laying on the ground, would burn upward. But the fire appears to have moved west. Sparks must have flown.”

Chetwynd only has a volunteer fire department, so more volunteers from the nearby Moberly Lake volunteer fire department also responded. Courtoreille says the BC Wildfire Service also helped, and two helicopters dropped water, concentrating on a wooded area adjacent to the mill.

He says the company managed to move logs out of the way, as the fire grew.

“The West Fraser Mill was moving some of the logs – anything they could extract from getting in any danger, so they could take some of the fuel away.”

“The only thing that happened at the mill was the employees were sent home, just for safety sake. Residents in the area were told to standby just in case the fire got any worse.”

West Fraser says no one was hurt and employees jumped into action when the fire was spotted just after 2:30 p.m.

“Firefighters are on site and air support is being used to aid in extinguishing the fire, which is contained to the log yard. The mill is not at risk and we are prioritizing efforts to contain the fire to the site and minimize any risk of spread,” the company said Friday morning.

Pictures show the flames still shooting from piles of logs well into evening.

“An investigation into the cause of the fire and an assessment of damage will occur once the fire has been suppressed,” the company said.

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