Fire officials are crediting an “astute” watchman for preventing what could have been a devastating mill fire in Ruskin earlier this week.
Watkins Sawmills, off 287th Street north of the Lougheed Highway in east Maple Ridge, suffered a massive fire back in August 2011 and such a disaster could have struck again Monday, said Maple Ridge fire chief Dane Spence.
Workers had been welding earlier in the day. Given the working conditions in mills, the chance of fire starting are great, Spence explained, noting that a spark from the welding can ignite sawdust and smolder for hours undetected.
But thankfully, the chief said, this mill adhered to standard industry practices. That included removing excess cedar shavings in the vicinity, wetting down the work area during and after the welding job, and keeping watch in the subsequent hours, all steps that Spence said reduce the risk of catastrophic fires.
While doing his rounds just after 9 p.m., the night watchman “noticed smoke developing” in the area and called 9-1-1, the chief explained.
“The potential was there. Without this watchman being on the ball, this could have been another devastating fire,” Spence added.
“We were able to extinguish the fire and water it down with water from our trucks,” he said, noting that about 40 firefighters responded to the call because of the potential danger.
@ Copyright 2013