Crews at Tolko Industries Ltd.’s Lakeview Division have been removing the roof and cladding from the sawmill building where a stubborn fire that began on Thursday, Nov. 2 persisted for several days. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Fire crews fight for local economy

Chief administrative officer praises the Williams Lake and 150 Mile House fire departments’ tackling of the Lakeview Division fire

The City’s CAO praised local firefighters for their efforts in battling a blaze at Tolko Lakeview that destroyed portions of the sawmill building.

“I watched our department heroically fighting the fire inside the structure,” Milo MacDonald told city council during its regular meeting Tuesday. “They did everything they possibly could. They were hampered by a really strong north wind and it almost made it impossible, but they kept going knowing they were fighting for the economy of our town.”

The City has a mutual aid agreement with the 150 Mile Volunteer Fire Dept. who came to assist, staying through the night.

“Watching it was humbling to see they spared no efforts,” MacDonald said of the two departments’ work.

The fire broke out Thursday, Nov. 2 around 6:20 p.m. and kept firefighters and the company busy as flare-ups continued in the roof for several days.

Since Tuesday, with the assistance of a crane and contractors, the company has removed the roof and cladding from the portion of the building impacted by the fire.

“We have been able to remove all the smoldering pockets of the fire,” said Tom Hoffman, Tolko’s manager of external and stakeholder relations Thursday morning. “Now we can do a fulsome assessment to determine the damage and our next steps.”

For the most part the fire destroyed saw filer and sawmill offices, and the water used to fight the fires damaged computers and electrical components.

Hoffman said he knows everyone is anxious to know when the sawmill is going to restart, but it is going to take some time to do the assessment.

“We are very aware and sensitive about our employees and we really owe it to our employees to discuss our findings first with them because they are the most important,” Hoffman said. “We haven’t done that yet and we want to go to them with the best of communication and a picture of what’s going on.”

Employees have been working at the planer since Monday as it is housed in a separate building.



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Lakeview Divison normally employs 175 people, but it is unclear how many are presently working on site.

MacDonald had a debriefing with the fire department about the fire on Tuesday to go over what could be improved next time.

“Overall I was struck by how positive people’s recollections were and how well it went in comparison to how bad it could have gone,” MacDonald told city council.

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