Fire destroys Millar Western's Fox Creek sawmill

    EDMONTON, Sept. 3 /CNW/ - On Friday, August 29, the Millar Western Forest
Products Ltd. sawmill at Fox Creek, Alberta, was lost to a fire. The blaze,
which started shortly after 4 pm, was brought under control later that night
and extinguished by noon the next day.
    The sawmill was in operation at the time the fire started. Employees took
immediate steps to employ mill fire suppression equipment, then followed
emergency protocols to evacuate the building once the fire became too large to
fight safely. There were no injuries. The Fox Creek and Whitecourt fire
departments brought the fire under control, working with mill staff and other
emergency responders.
    The fire appears to have started with the motor and motor control centre
of a piece of equipment called a chip-n-saw, before rapidly spreading through
the mill. Fire and insurance investigators, along with our own staff, are
conducting an investigation to determine the exact cause.
    The extensive damage caused by the fire was confined to the sawmill
itself, which has been rendered inoperable. Other operation facilities were
unaffected. While the mill was fully covered by insurance, it will be some
time before an insurance assessment can be completed, and the company can
begin to formulate plans for the site's future.
    The company will be working to keep the mill's 56 employees, as well as
community leaders and other stakeholders, informed of near- and long-term
plans for the operation. Today, the site's planer mill resumed operation, to
begin processing the one-month's supply of rough lumber on hand. With planer,
yard, woodlands and other staff resuming work, about two-thirds of the
operation's workforce is currently back on the job.
    Millar Western's Fox Creek operation had been running very well prior to
the fire, with productivity and efficiency increasing steadily since the
company acquired the mill one year ago. The sawmill, which was producing at a
rate of roughly 60 million board feet per year, was one of three owned and
operated by Millar Western Forest Products Ltd., a privately held forest
company that produces dimension lumber and high-yield pulp at operations in
Whitecourt, Boyle and Fox Creek, Alberta.

For further information:

For further information: Janet Millar, Communications Director, (780)

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