Workshop heavily damaged in ‘challenging’ Enderby mill blaze

Enderby firefighters had to combat heat and freezing temperatures during a workshop fire at a lumber mill on Monday. Courtesy: Nicki Furlong

Firefighters in Enderby had to combat hot and freezing temperatures in battling a workshop fire at a North Okanagan business on Monday.

Cliff Vetter of the Enderby Fire Department said the blaze at the small lumber mill broke out at approximately 5:15 p.m. Temperatures at the time were around -15 C, which led to equipment issues.

“Our air packs were the main (issue). We had to put them in a truck and thaw them out and then grab another one,” Vetter told Global News. “The regulators were freezing and then sometimes you’d get water on the threads and you couldn’t get {the nozzle off the tank] because it’d be frozen.

“That was probably the major one. And then with all the water, the scene got pretty icy, pretty quick. So people had to watch their footing at all times.”

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READ MORE: Mill fire near Enderby

The business was identified as South Enderby Boards. The company’s website says it specialized in custom-cut fir, cedar, spruce and pine. The mill is located on Highway 97A, approximately three kilometres south of the Starlight Drive-In theatre.

Craig McIntyre of South Enderby Boards said only the workshop, which included an office, was affected. The sawmill nor the logs, he said, weren’t affected by the fire.

McIntyre said the business made a variety of wood products, including custom dining room tables and feature walls.

He also said the company has between three and six employees, with winter being the off-season, and that there was no insurance. Plans are now being made to recover from this, he added.

Around 16 firefighters were on scene, with the blaze being fully extinguished around midnight.

READ MORE: Power restored in Pembroke after lumber yard fire causes major outage Wednesday

Vetter said various types of wood within the workshop, plus other volatile materials, such as lacquers, contributed to the blaze.

“It was very challenging,” said Vetter. “Not only the weather, but all that stuff in there and it was wood construction through and through.

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“There was plywood, it was 2-by-6 construction. Nowadays, with drywall, you can poke a hole through it and if you have fire in the wall, you can put it out. Here, we had to get chainsaws, we had to cut. Everything had a little extra effort to extinguish the fire.”

The cause of the fire is undetermined, though Vetter had plans to visit the site this afternoon to see if he could pinpoint what caused it.

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