Note: The Fire Chief’s report on the fire follows the original story.
REVELSTOKE – A late night fire at Revelstoke’s Downie Street Sawmill on July 21 appears to have cause relatively minor yet significant damage.
When the Times Review left the scene at about 11:40 p.m., the situation seemed largely under control, but firefighters were still dealing with the fire, so there is no official comment yet. The following details are based on observation and unconfirmed reports. Check back later Friday morning for the official report.
It appears that sparks in a milling room caused some kind of accelerant to ignite suddenly sometime after 10 p.m., sending flames up a wall in the building. The flames were apparently quite powerful and workers evacuated.
Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services responded to the scene with at least three trucks. RCMP and paramedics stood by while career firefighters and volunteers fought the fire, which was reduced to only smoke about 30 minutes after ignition.
Firefighters focused on the corner of a building in the mill complex, dousing it with water. Some firefighters could be seen on the roof as firefighters continued to hose water on the building.
By about 11:30 p.m., the operation appeared to be wrapping up and firefighters could be seen packing up.
The night shift was cancelled and many of the workers went home. A mill worker said there weren’t any injuries to staff during the initial fire. He did say the fire flared up very suddenly and dramatically.
From the time the Times Review arrived on scene, paramedics did not appear to treat anyone, so it appears there were no injuries, although that has not been confirmed.
July 22 Update: Fire Chief reports on incident
Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services chief Rob Girard provided an update on the Downie Street Sawmills fire on Friday morning.
Girard said crews responded to a call that came in at 10:20 p.m.
“Fire Crews quickly determined the fire was in the eight-inch gang saw area of the mill,” Girard said in a statement. “Our initial attack teams were able to fight the fire and hold it in the area of origin and prevent it from spreading further into the mill.”
The sprinkler system was activated, but it didn’t douse the fire, which was driven by sawdust, oil and other combustibles in the area.
“It was a pretty significant fire to fight,” Girard said.
15 firefighters and four fire trucks attended, battling the blaze and then overhauling hot spots hidden in void areas.
All of the mill workers were out of the area when firefighters arrived. “I want to commend Downie Timbers’ employees for making a good effort to try and extinguish the fire before our arrival – safely and without injury,” Girard said.
The fire caused “substantial fire, smoke and water damage.”
The fire chief said the cause of the fire was still under investigation and that details would be available when the investigation was complete.
It took the fire department two hours to fight and overhaul the fire. There were no injuries to fire personnel.