Fire ignites in building housing chipper unit at Fraser Cedar Products in Whonnock, British Columbia; fire chief suspects cause was welding work, praises efforts of firefighters who contained blaze, prevented spread to sawmill

MAPLE RIDGE, British Columbia , December 3, 2013 () – Part of a Whonnock sawmill went up in flames early Saturday morning, but a fire official is lauding his crew for preventing it from spreading and for subsequently saving upwards of 100 local jobs.

Maple Ridge firefighters were called out to Fraser Cedar Mill, in the 27400 block of Lougheed Highway, just after midnight, explained fire chief Dane Spence.

"Electrical arcing from the mills high voltage power lines illuminated the sky for miles around and the building that housed the chipper unit at Fraser Cedar Products was completely involved with fire on our arrival," he said, noting there was multiple 9-1-1 calls.

"Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the building of origin and prevent the flames from damaging the main portion of the sawmill," said Spence, who explained it wasn't without its hurdles.

The mill's fire pump, which is designed to supply fire suppression water from the river, was out being serviced, leaving firefighters to bring water in tanker trucks.

As well, since the mill is located along the river, railway traffic had to be halted to allow fire trucks to shuttle water back and forth.

"In my world, we judge our successes by what doesn't burn after our arrival. So by that standard, today's efforts were a great success," said Spence, who concluded the fire was started by welding on Friday.

Source: the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Times. All rights reserved.

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