Fire broke out Monday night at Bear Mountain Forest Products in Cascade Locks, while the plant was unoccupied for Memorial Day.
The call was turned in at 9:06 p.m. by Deputy Chris Guertin of Hood River County Sheriff’s Office, who was on patrol on Forest Lane.
Cascade Locks Fire Department volunteers arrived at 9:14 p.m., according to Capt. John Logan.
No one was injured in the fire.
“We arrived to find heavy fire outside and heavy fire in a sawdust storage area, attached to the main mill,” Logan said.
The fire progressed into the main mill, damaging a 30-by-40-foot section, and causing minimal equipment damage, said Eric Lawrence, environmental safety supervisor for the company.
He said Tuesday that the company is not operational as a result of the fire, and it is unknown how long it will be until the plant is back on line.
“It’s way too early to say. We are truly just assessing,” he said. A deputy State Fire Marshal was on scene Tuesday to assist in the investigation.
All of the plant’s 23 employees were on site Tuesday handling existing inventory and doing clean-up, and power was restored around mid-day to the offices.
Sawdust was burned but no finished product was damaged, according to Lawrence.
“I thought the fire department’s response was very good, very quick,” Lawrence said. “The call went in from a deputy, late in the day on Memorial Day, and with a little more time it could have been much worse.”
Also responding were Stevenson and Hood River Fire Departments, and Skamania Fire District One. Approximately nine Cascade Locks personnel were on scene.
Logan said the fire “ate up two rafter bays,” and firefighters cut away to beams to get access. One storage area was heavily damaged along with a pile of sawdust and the shed covering it.
“Initially, due to the amount of fire on the exterior of the building and unknown fire inside with compromised trusses, we started a defensive attack, and (later) we deemed it safe to enter the building and check our extension and access the hot spots.
“We had to cut poles in western wall to make access to the main building,” Logan said.