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Up in Flames


On Sept. 30 at approximately 8:18 p.m., the Swan River Fire Department (SRFD) along with Swan River RCMP and Shared Health Emergency Medical Services were dispatched to a fire at Spruce Products Limited (SPL) involving a conveyor system and structures. “Upon arrival, both the conveyor system and
incinerator were fully involved,” said SRFD Fire Chief Darren Fedorchuk. “Due to the size and complexity
of the facility, mutual aid was requested from the Bowsman, Minitonas and Birch River Fire Departments.
“A quick knockdown by first-on-scene crews and a steady water supply provided by both commercial and private haulers helped contain the fire to the single structure and no other damage was sustained at the mill.” At approximately 2 a.m., all departments cleared the scene and were placed back into service.
Fedorchuk also showed his appreciation to Davidiuk Trucking, Rick Bresky Logging, Valley Water and Wolverine Water and Septic for their help in providing tanker services during the operation. No injuries were reported, there is no estimate of loss and the cause was determined as accidental. The SPL staff on the night shift discovered the fire and quickly stopped all conveyors, called 911 and attempted to suppress the fire.
“The response by the fire departments in the  area was outstanding,” said SPL President Ward Perchuk, noting that other staff members also arrived on site and began moving lumber and other wood products away from the path of the fire. “Fire Chief Darren Fedorchuk did an excellent job of coordinating the suppression efforts.”
Perchuk explained that the fire took a large structure that has a walking floor that was used to store processed sawdust, as well as a conveyor system that was used for handling sawmill waste. “The fire departments did a great job of protecting our main power distribution, so the next day it was business as usual for the planer mill, shavings bagger, office, pellet plant, boilers and kilns,” he said. “The sawmill
was down for Thursday and Friday. “Our maintenance crews have installed two temporary conveyors 
that allowed operations to resume Monday. We are currently looking at a number of options to  permanently replace the damaged conveyors. Replacement equipment will be sourced shortly and we hope to have the new system installed before Christmas.”
Perchuk added that the fire appeared to have started near a hammer mill that grinds scrap wood to a size acceptable by boilers, suspecting that a stick may have rubbed on a belt creating enough heat to start the
fire, made worse by the strong winds in the evening.

Jeremy Bergen