Flare-ups continue at Tolko’s Lakeview sawmill in Williams Lake where a fire broke out Thursday around 6:20 p.m. Photo submitted

Stubborn fire still flaring up at Williams Lake sawmill

Firefighters work 25 hours straight to contain initial blaze

Flare-ups have kept firefighting crews and Tolko busy at Tolko’s Lakeview Division in Williams Lake where a fire broke out in the sawmill at about 6:20 p.m. last Thursday.

“It appears the fire is hiding in the ceiling a bit, and that’s what we are dealing with,” communications advisor Janice Lockyer told the Tribune Monday.

Lockyer said the fire has mostly impacted saw filer and general sawmill offices.

The Williams Lake Fire Dept. were on scene off and on throughout the weekend, with assistance from the 150 Mile Volunteer Fire Dept. from 9 p.m. Thursday until 6 a.m. Friday.

Deputy Fire Chief Rob Warnock said his crews were there for 25 hours straight from 6:36 p.m. Thursday and then back late Friday, Saturday for about 10 hours and again Sunday evening for a few hours.

“Tolko had employees monitoring and they had their own equipment so they could get in and rip the siding and plywood off so we could get our equipment and manpower into the mill,” Warnock said. “There is plywood up against the tin roof and if there is dust inside that is what keeps catching on fire.”

Warnock said Tolko will be taking the roof off and the offices out and that will help.

“Ours was mainly a lot of aerial work because that way we could pump out so much water,” Warnock said, noting Tolko had its own high lifts with guns to shoot water into the building. “We brought three apparatus and initially 20 firefighters, but after that first 25 hours I had to start letting guys rotate so they could go to work or get some sleep.”

United Steelworkers Union Local 2017 first vice-president Paul French said Monday the union is “kind of nervous,” but that employees are working on the planer today, just not in the sawmill.

“I know they are running three shifts at the planer and the trucks are still coming in,” French said. “I think they are trying to have people doing whatever they can. I haven’t talked to them yet to know what the numbers are, but Tolko is trying to accommodate their employees with work.”

Tolko’s woodlands manager Tom Hoffman told the Tribune the assessment and investigation continues, but it would appear there is some damage to sawmill equipment, but most of the damage is structural to the building.

“The structural engineers were here on Sunday, and we are waiting for WorkSafeBC to allow us to go into the mill because we cannot send workers in there the way it is,” Hoffman said. “The plan is to tear the cladding off the roof and the siding to get a better view and understanding of how much damage there is and then we will go from there.”

Hoffman said the fire is a blow to the employees and operations.

“We’ve gone through a disastrous year this year with fires and then to have this happen is heartbreaking.”

Just Posted

The water level at the Upper Campbell Reservoir behind Strathcona Dam (left of picture) is currently rising slowly, BC Hydro says but it is forecasted to be in the low end of the expected recreation target range due to drier than average conditions. This photo was taken in mid-March 2021. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror
Conditions turn drier than normal in Campbell River watershed

BC Hydro forecasts another year of low summer reservoir levels and Campbell River flows.

NIC’s new president Lisa Domae assumed the role of president on April 12. Domae has worked at NIC since 2000, most recently as the executive vice president, academic and chief operating officer. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
New North Island College president launches draft strategic plan

Lisa Domae assumed the role of president on April 12, 2021

From left are Michael Siemens, Ben Cyphery from the Young Professionals of Campbell River, Trudy Parry from the Better at Home project, and Michaela Arruda, Amanda Raleigh and Kelsey Anglin of the Young Professionals of Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Young Professionals raise over $6,000 for Better at Home project

Virtual dinner party held to raise funds for seniors

Nathan Zuk had left his mother’s residence in Whaletown on Cortes Island in mid-December 2020 in a 14’ skiff rowboat and headed to an unknown location near the Pryce Channel, Deer passage, or Toba Inlet. Photo courtesy RCMP
RCMP need help finding man who set off from Cortes Island in 14-foot rowboat

Nathan Zuk left in December, may have been last seen in Toba Inlet approximately three weeks ago

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

The new wing at the Victoria International Airport opened up on Thursday (File contributed/YYJ)
Pandemic takes ‘hundreds of millions’ out of Victoria Airport, Vancouver Island economy

Airport authority head says passenger volumes down as much as 98 per cent

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Reigning women’s World Champion Kaetlyn Osmond, who also took bronze at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, will debut two brand new programs for the 2021 Stars On Ice tour, in Victoria May 15. (File photo)
Kurt Browning, Elvis Stojko hit the ice when Stars On Ice returns to Vancouver Island

The star-studded lineup is makes a return after pandemic hiatus

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen, with the 100 Mile House RCMP. (Melissa Smalley - 100 Mile Free Press)
14-year-old boy killed in serious ATV crash near 100 Mile House

Youth was travelling with a group of peers when the incident occurred last Friday

Relief is coming for B.C.’s struggling tourism sector. (NEWS file photo)
B.C. officials set to announce more support for tourism sector hit hard by pandemic

Non-essential travel is restricted between three regional zones in B.C. until at least May 24

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Nathalie Emmanuel, left, and Vin Diesel in a scene from “F9.” (Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
The blockbuster movie is making a comeback this summer

Excitement in the industry is growing again for a return to a big-screen normal

Most Read