Fire at Arcata Forest Products This Afternoon
According to Jenny Williamson of the Arcata Fire District, there was a fire this afternoon at Arcata Forest Products. A chiphopper caught on fire. Crews responded and tried to control the fire on the ground. Once they got notification from the mill that all the electrical power was shut down, firefighters were able to use a catwalk to approach the fire from above. They were able to quickly extinguish the fire.
More information and photos expected soon.
UPDATE 9:20 p.m.:
Information provided by Arcata Fire District:
At 5:54 PM Arcata Fire District was dispatched to a commercial fire in the 100 block of Alder Grove Road. The first arriving chief officer on scene reported nothing showing but continued to investigate. As he drove around to the back of the mill he reported moderate smoke coming from the top of a bark bin at a lumber mill. After making contact with a mill employee, he received additional information indicating sawdust and lumber chips adjacent to the conveyor belt were on fire and spreading quickly under high wind conditions.
Mill employees were trying to extend hose lines to attempt extinguishment of the fire but were asked to cease their efforts so the engine companies and truck company could initiate their plan to access and extinguish the fire. Battalion Chief Campbell stated, “The fire was on top of a large steel structure, approximately 40 feet off the ground and the equipment was still energized. We needed to lock-out & tag-out the equipment before we could safely mitigate the incident.”
A Safety Officer from Arcata Fire District coordinated the lock-out & tag-out process with the company’s millwright and the equipment was shut down. Once fire crews received notification to commence operations, they lifted the platform of the truck to the top of the bark bin and accessed the fire from a catwalk. Firefighters used safety belts to clip themselves onto the steel structure as they operated their hose lines and extinguished the fire. Prior to the use of the platform, fire crews contained the fire from the ground but were not able to completely extinguish the fire until it was accessed from the catwalk.
Arcata Fire District responded with three chief officers, two engines, one truck and automatic-aid from Blue Lake Fire District. “For the second night in a row, we have had multiple calls come in at the same time. This fire immediately committed our six on duty career staff and the volunteer firefighters who were in training. Once again, we had to rely on our neighboring jurisdictions to help us in our own District. The engines and Chief Officer’s that were covering for us tonight ran another fire call and medical aid while they were covering stations. We appreciate their help but it leaves them short in their own District’s.” reported Battalion Chief Campbell.
While Arcata Fire District personnel worked to mitigate the fire at the mill, Humboldt Bay Fire, Blue Lake Fire and one engine from Arcata Fire were dispatched to the Westwood area for a chimney fire. The chimney fire was quickly mitigated by the Humboldt Bay Fire engine and Chief Officer.
“Without the assistance of our neighboring fire agencies, multiple calls coming in at the same time would go unanswered. This stretches our resources thin” stated BC Campbell. He went on to say, “both of these fire calls as well as the medical aid call were dispatched within a few minutes of each other. These incidents happened during a drill where we had volunteers readily available and committed with our career staff.”