The cause of the Nov. 2 fire at Tolko Lakeview Division in Williams Lake is still not known, but work is underway to rebuild it. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Tolko resumes rebuilding fire-damaged sawmill in Williams Lake

Union says at least 100 employees have lost jobs because of sawmill fire

Work is underway at Tolko Industries Ltd. Lakeview Division in Williams Lake where the sawmill building was damaged by fire at the beginning of November.

The Tolko board has approved the sawmill’s reconstruction, said Tom Hoffman, Tolko’s manager of external and stakeholder relations.

“There was no work done between Christmas and New Year’s and they are starting again on Monday, Jan. 8,” Hoffman told the Tribune. “Not all of the assessments have been completed yet because we are still deconstructing and there is still assessment work that needs to be done.”

As the equipment is evaluated and assessed, there will likely be some changes made, to the mill, but Hoffman said it is still way too early for him to even suggest what those changes will be, noting the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Hoffman said the company is trying to keep on as many employees as possible to work at the site, while contractors with cranes and other skills have been hired for the rebuilding project.

United Steelworkers Union Local 2017 first vice president Paul French told the Tribune Monday that at least 100 positions have been impacted by the fire.

“It’s pretty lean,” French said.

“Those 100 have either gone on EI or found other work,” he said. “There are about 40 union people working on the site doing security and maintenance work, and about 30 have been placed at other Tolko operations such as at Soda Creek or in Quesnel.”

Tolko’s Soda Creek Division is planning to put on an extra shift next week, which will give some more people work, French said, but noted that Quesnel isn’t in a position to fire up an extra shift at this point.

Read More: Tolko sawmill employees updated on EI and training

Read More: Fire crews fight for local economy

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