Mill ready to run following electrical fire

Coldstream Lumber is hoping to be back up and running in full force by Monday despite a major electrical fire destroying its kilns Tuesday.

“We’ll be able to have all the guys back,” said Tannis Wilson, assistant mill manager.

Investigations into the fire revealed that there was a catastrophic failure of fuse boxes which led to electrical arcing.

“We’ve had it confirmed through lab tests,” said Coldstream Fire Chief Shane Code.

Now that the investigation has wrapped up, the mill is just waiting for BC Hydro to replace the transformer which blew and get power back into the site,

Some employees have already been back since the fire, cleaning up the mess.

The blaze, which broke out Tuesday morning, completely destroyed the two kilns and melted the front of the planer shed. But since the kilns aren’t used very often in the summer, Wilson says the wood can dry outside for now. It’s in a month or two when the mill will really need the kilns.

Damage is estimated at “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Code.

The employee who was taken to Vernon Jubilee Hospital with smoke inhalation is also on the mend.

“He was released yesterday and he’s home,” said Wilson.

“All six fire departments did an amazing job,” adds Wilson.

Coldstream Fire Department was backed up by Lavington, Lumby and BX crews initially and later called in Armstrong and Vernon for further assistance.

“We owe the success to neighbouring fire departments,” said Coldstream fire chief Shane Code. “We could not have fought that fire alone.

“It was certainly the biggest fire I’ve had to tackle to date and I don’t want to have to do it again.”

Along with a need for manpower (which Code had hoped for more of), additional tender tankers were needed to move water.

“There was 16,000 lbs of water a minute we were putting into the fire, so those tanks were emptying very quickly,” said Code.

Although there was a hydrant near the west side of the property, crews had the best advantage battling the blaze from the north, therefore were constantly trucking water.

“We had five doing a NASCAR loop. We barely kept up.”

Crews were battling the blaze all day Tuesday and then remained on scene until 5 a.m. Wednesday monitoring the blaze.

“It was essentially fire watch from 5 p.m. on,” said Code.


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