Firefighters called out for early morning battle

Fire sparked at Ainsworth's OSB plant in 100 Mile House

A fire that broke out during the early morning hours of April 22 at the Ainsworth OSB plant had 21 firefighters from three fire departments respond, along with four fire trucks and a command vehicle.

100 Mile House Fire-Rescue chief Darrell Blades says the blaze broke out in the mill’s No. 3 cyclone, leading to a call-out at 4:40 a.m.

The mill itself wasn’t under any threat, Blades explains, as crews were called in quickly and the cyclone is isolated from the plant. However, he notes this also makes it “difficult to put out.”

“The cyclones plug with flakes and then catch on fire, so it’s like having a big silo full of OSB strands burning. So, it’s hard to deal with.”

Around 7 a.m., fire spread to an EFB (electrified filter bed) stack, Blades adds, which controls smoke emissions.

“So, we dealt with that fire, and then finished up with the cyclone by about 8:30 a.m.”

His department sent 11 members with three trucks and received mutual aid from 108 Mile Ranch and Lone Butte volunteer fire departments (VFD), each bringing along five members and one engine.

He notes Forest Grove VFD brought an engine and crew to 100 Mile House on standby in case of a fire or other emergency requiring assistance while the local department was occupied.

The mill crew took over fire cleanup and checked for residual sparks when the firefighters went back to their respective halls to clean up their equipment, which Blades notes kept his members busy until around 10:30 a.m.

While these types of fires are not uncommon, he adds, they are not easy to battle.

“Access is always a concern there. It is narrow hallways and long skinny ladders that we have to climb to access some of these.”