By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
Smoke and flames poured out of the Hambro Forest Products mill late yesterday while fire personnel from both the Crescent City Fire Department and the Crescent Fire Protection District filled the mill with water.
After the fire was under control, owner Dwayne Reichlin emerged from the smokey building with sheets of water falling from his soaked head and body.
"It was one of those close calls," Reichlin said.
None of the particle board product manufactured by the mill appeared to have caught fire, according to Reichlin. The full extent of the damages has not yet been assessed, however.
"My guess is that a spark came off the press and shot across the ceiling," he said.
As the spark hit minute particles of saw dust in the machinery, a fire ball ignited causing flames visible from the parking lot 150 yards away.
The huge vats of glue used to press wood shavings together for particle board are not flammable, according to employees.
Four fire trucks and their crews arrived within minutes of the alarm and worked quickly to roll out hoses to the hydrant on Elk Valley Road.
Employees of the mill were attempting to fight the fire from the roof of the building as fire fighters arrived on the scene.
"They shouldn't be up there with all that smoke, and they have no equipment on," said spectator and retired Eureka fire fighter Ken Voss who happened to be in the area.
Water from the mill's sprinkler system and fire hoses caused several streams choked with sawdust to trail out of every door of the building.
After 20 or 30 minutes, the fire was under control.
"What we'll do now is open everything up to clear out the smoke and turn off the sprinkler system so we can assess the damage," Reichlin said.