No serious injuries at Plateau mill fire

On July 16, Vanderhoof Fire Services attended the scene about 25 km west of Vanderhoof and quickly extinguished the small fire.

No serious injuries were suffered during a fire at the Canfor Plateau Mill on July 16, the RCMP says.

Reported at 11:08 a.m., Vanderhoof Fire Services attended the scene on Bearhead Road approximately 25 km west of Vanderhoof and quickly extinguished the small fire. Emergency Health Services attended and cleared all personnel who were exposed to smoke inhalation.

Through investigation, it was determined that the fire was started by a welding torch near the edger machine in the sawmill during routine maintenance.

According to information released by the RCMP and WorkSafeBC, a welding employee at the completion of a work assignment was clearing air out of the torch — a process that normally causes sparks — when he heard the sound of a pop and saw a puncture in the oil lines of the machine. The RCMP believes that a spark may have contacted a small break in the line, leading to a flame.

Shutting down the equipment immediately and contacting other staff, the employee on scene started fighting the fire with a nearby hose. The fire — which was about the size of a small car — was extinguished within the hour, as mill employees assisted until the Vanderhoof fire department attended the scene.

While the fire burned parts of the wire system, it seemed to cause no structural damage.

“The fast response of Plateau employees and management resulted in this fire being controlled very quickly,” said Sgt. Svend Nielsen of Vanderhoof RCMP. “Without their action and the swift response of the Vanderhoof fire crews, it could have been a lot worse.”

Canfor Corporation external affairs director Corinne Stavness said the mill was back up and running on July 18.

“All of our operations are protected by automatic fire protection detection and suppression systems which functioned effectively, and combined with the response of our employees and the local fire department, the fire was quickly detected and extinguished,” Stavness said.

Vanderhoof RCMP will assist WorkSafeBC with the remainder of the investigation.