Enderby Fire Department battled frigid conditions in putting out a mill fire Monday.
A blaze broke out in a workshop at South Enderby Boards, off Highway 97A near the Starlight Drive-In, at about 5:15 p.m., 45 minutes after the last employee had left for the day.
“The fire was in a workshop where finishing is done, so there was lots of moulding, lots of fuel in there,” said Enderby Fire Chief Cliff Vetter Tuesday morning. “It’s a complete wood structure. The damage is extensive. It’s hard to tell where it started.”
The company website says it “specializes in custom-cut fir, cedar, spruce and pine.”
“It was our workshop where we had a lot of specialized tooling and woodworking stuff,” said South Enderby Boards spokesperson Craig McIntyre. “We were making some big tables and higher end stuff in there, but it wasn’t any of my sawmill, anything to do with that. But it’s still a bit of a blow, that’s for sure.
“Like any time with a fire, it’s all the things you remember three days later, like ‘Oh, let’s go get that tool to fix this, oh, that was in the shop.’ Paperwork, notes, contacts, all sorts of stuff is gone.”
Conditions for the fire department were tough as the firefighters dealt with the Arctic chill that’s gripped the province.
“There was the freezing of air packs, face pieces, it was icy after spraying water so the scene became very slippery throughout the night,” said Vetter. “We had a truck where guys could go thaw out, get warm and get back at it.”
The fuel in the workshop made for a long, cold night for firefighters.
“With that fuel load in there, it was very hard to get the fire out,” said Vetter. “The mop up took forever with layers upon layers of wood. There is no drywall, it’s all wood with some fibreglass insulation. There were fires in every little nook and cranny.”
The cause of the fire is undetermined.
McIntyre said the fire came during the company’s slow season.
“Nobody got hurt, everything’s fine, it’s just a matter of how do we persevere and move on,” said McIntyre on Tuesday. “We’re just trying to figure that out this morning. We’ll be moving onwards and upwards.
“The things that make me money are still here and we’re ready to go back to work. We have to do some electrical modifications on things and figure out how to build a new workshop and office.”
McIntyre hopes to have the business reopened toward the end of the week. He had high praise for the work of the fire department.
“They were here really fast, they battled that sucker for a long time,” said McIntyre. “Like they said, it’s one of the best built buildings that has been around for a long time, and they just couldn’t get it out. I believe they were here for over eight hours pouring water on that thing, and it’s still standing.”
As they’re in their slow season, McIntyre said only four people were working as of Monday, but for one in particular, the fire is a major setback.
“I have another fellow that works here with us in kind of a joint business and he makes a lot of specialized things, it hurt him quite badly,” said McIntyre. “He had a lot of specialized tools in there and he had a lot of projects on the go.”
The shop was not insured. McIntyre said fires that destroyed sawmills up north a few years ago hurt small operations’ abilities to get insurance. He said he had been in the process of getting insurance for content and rolling stock, with a meeting set up for later in the week.