By David F. Rooney
The fire at the Downie Sawmill log sorting yard may continue smouldering for another week, City Council was told Tuesday afternoon.
“Without more fuel we think it will be out in a week,” the mill’s Alan Smythe told Mayor David Raven and members of City Council.
The fire was reported to the fire department on Oct. 30 as a bonfire, Fire Chief Rob Girard reported to Council.
“I attended the scene and discovered it was much more than a bonfire,” he said.
The chief said the cause of the fire is under investigation, but Smythe said it was spontaneous combustion
“Unfortunately, spontaneous combustion fires happen in debris piles at times – our current wet conditions are ideal for this type of fire to start, and there have been numerous fires like this at other mills recently,” the mill superintendent said in an e-mail.
“Downie Timber apologizes for any contribution to the smoky conditions in our community that this fire is causing.”
The flames consumed log bundles and “finished product,” Smythe said. He did not give an estimate as to the loss.
Firefighters responding the scene pumped 40 loads of water — about 1,500 gallons — on the flames and the fire was damped down by about 4 am, Girard said.
“There’s no risk (posed to any buildings or the remaining logs int he yard) at this time,” Girard said. “But if this had happened in August it would be a completely different story.”
Smythe praised both the firefighters and the mill’s own work crews for their efforts.
“The outstanding actions by the City Fire Rescue Service Department to contain this fire when it first ignited is much appreciated,” he said. “The career and volunteer firefighters responded quickly, professionally, and safely. The showed how well-trained and innovative they are in acting on an unusual situation like this fire. We are very fortunate to have such a capable Fire Rescue Service in our city.
“We wish to also commend our employees for responding quickly to move a deck of logs and a large volume of lumber. Without their efforts, all of that product would have been lost.”