Future of NIFP uncertain after mill fire

An early-morning fire on April 5 seriously damaged the Northern Interior Forest Products mill near Fort St. James.

An early-morning fire on April 5 seriously damaged the Northern Interior Forest Products mill.

The fire burnt the interior of the mill building, but the metal structure did keep the fire contained within the building, according to the fire department.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation according to Ben Hoy of KDL Group, which owns the mill.

The fire department did say the fire may have originated in the beehive burner but the report was still in progress.

The fire was discovered in the early morning hours by an employee, and no one else was on site, which Hoy said they are grateful for.

“We’re just relieved and happy nobody was injured,” he said.

The Fort St. James Volunteer Fire Department was called to the fire at 5:51 a.m. the Friday morning and arrived on the scene at the mill on Tachie Road by 6:10 a.m.

The back of the mill building was already engulfed when the firefighters arrived, and their initial engagement with the fire was delayed while they waited for BC Hydro to make the building safe for the crews due to the large power sources on site.

The fire department was on the scene extinguishing the fire until 2 p.m.

The mill employed 14 people and produced fence posts and rails and Hoy said it is too early to know the cost of the damage or if they will be able to rebuild.

Mayor Rob MacDougall said he and council will be working with the owners towards rebuilding if possible. MacDougall himself had hauled logs to the mill and said it was a major factor in making use of logs which otherwise would have been left as waste, increasing the usable fibre in beetle-killed logs and reducing the amount burnt on logging blocks.