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Firefighters save the day at Grant Forest Products

Bruce MacKinnon

Bruce MacKinnon
A FOUR-ALARM alarm fire broke out at the Grant Forest Products plant on Highway 101 West, Thursday afternoon. Approximately 35 firefighters and another 35 plant employees co-operated to bring the blaze under control in under four hours. Smoke from the fire billowed out from the roof vents while fire fighters worked in -27 C temperatures.

By Bruce MacKinnon

Friday, January 09, 2004 - 07:00

Local News - No one was injured and major damage was prevented Thursday afternoon when Timmins firefighters battled a serious blaze at the Grant Forest Products plant on Highway 101 West.

A combination of plant employees doing all the right things and a sprinkler system doing what it was designed to do, held the fire in a mixing area in check, said Fire Chief Lester Cudmore.

Approximately 35 firefighters from the Timmins Fire Department, along with volunteers from Timmins, Schumacher and Mountjoy moved in to control the blaze at 3 p.m.

Another 35 plant employees co-operated to bring the blaze under control in under four hours.

As a result of all these factors, there was no repeat of the fire that erupted at the same plant on June 3, 1997 when it was owned by Malette Inc.

The multi-million dollar fire caused by a broken hydraulic fluid line, left 165 mill employees unemployed for most of a year.

It occurred shortly after a $60 million expansion to the building was completed.

No one was injured in that fire either.

Although one production line was lost in Thursday’s fire, no one will apparently be out of a job.

“A fire on a conveyer with wood chips and in a mixing area caused enough damage to close one production line,” Cudmore said.

“The plant will not be out of operation, according to what company officials told me. They have another production line available to them.

“Compared to the value of the plant, the damage isn’t significant. It was minimal damage compared to what it could have been.”

An investigation will begin Friday by the fire department and company officials, Cudmore said.

“The command unit paid for itself Thursday, since it allowed our fire fighters to warm themselves,” he said, with temperatures outside at -27 C at the time of the fire.

“Some of the men who were wet from battling the blaze inside would literally freeze up once they came outside,” he said. “Without it, our men couldn’t get their second wind and would have not lasted as long as they did.”

A huge ventilation shaft on the roof of the acres-sized building allowed much of the smoke out, while fire fighters fought to open another vent nearby to allow fumes and gases out as well, Cudmore said.

“It could have been worse, but everything went according to the way it should have in this kind of situation,” he said.

“It’s quite common to have much smaller fires on the driers, chip piles or waste areas, but this was significantly larger.”

ID- 54468

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