Fire Destroys Plywood Mill in Prince George, B.C.

May 28, 2008

A massive fire destroyed a Canfor Corp. plywood mill in a central British Columbia city, and a state of emergency was declared after the blaze ignited two other fires.

Workers at the North Central Plywoods mill said the fire started in the evening, apparently in one of three veneer dryers.

Flames spread quickly across the roof, and firefighters had to withdraw to defensive positions as the building was destroyed.

At least two people were treated for smoke inhalation, but authorities said all 40 workers who are believed to have been in the plant got out safely.

Sparks from the fire were blamed for igniting a blaze that destroyed a warehouse in the British Columbia Rail industrial area about a mile away. Firefighters quickly put out a third fire in a smaller building closer to the downtown area.

A municipal spokesman, Kevin Brown, said it was the largest combined fire incident in the history of the city, the fourth largest in British Columbia with a population of more than 77,000.

About 350 workers are employed at the mill, which had an annual production capacity of 185 million square feet of plywood. There was no immediate word on whether Canfor will rebuild.

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