Fire delays Houston Canfor mill full re-opening

Firefighters spent five hours bringing the blaze under control

Canfor’s mill in Houston remains closed because of weekend fire. (File photo)

Canfor’s mill in Houston remains closed because of weekend fire. (File photo)

Investigators are still determining the cause of an early morning Jan. 22 fire at Houston’s Canfor sawmill which severely damaged an interior control room.

The blaze has further set back a full re-opening of the mill which has been closed for five weeks.

For now, the mill’s planer operation resumed as scheduled on Jan. 23 to handle the rough lumber inventory stockpiled at the site.

“We are undertaking an investigation to determine what happened. We are also assessing the impacts of the damage and determining the availability of the necessary replacement equipment,” said Michelle Ward who speaks for Canfor.

At this point it is too early to know when we’ll be able to resume operations at the sawmill.”

“We are very grateful there were no injuries from the fire in the sawmill and we want to thank the Houston Volunteer Fire Department for their work on site to extinguish the fire.”

Houston Volunteer Fire Department chief Jim Daigneault said firefighters were called out just before 1 a.m. and that three engines responded with 17 department members.

“We were on scene for five hours. It was a challenge to make sure it was totally out,” he said of the fire in and around the computer equipment in the trimmer room.

“The fire had gotten into a couple of walls and the electrical room floor had been compromised by the fire,” Daigneault added.

Given the location of the fire, the breathing apparatus worn by firefighters became even more important as so many chemicals are released when something is burning, he said.

Also at the scene was B.C. Ambulance to check on the well-being of firefighters, something that is standard practice now.

The mill, as with Canfor’s other sawmills in B.C., was closed for three weeks in December with the company citing weak markets and high log costs as reasons.

It was to open after New Year’s only to have two weeks added to the closure.

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