Fire scare at Big River


QUICK-THINKING by employees has helped prevent a potentially devastating fire at Big River Timbers' plywood mill at Junction Hill.

Staff members saw flames leaping through the roof of the mill's woodchip conveyancing system and storage bin just before 11pm on Thursday.

They quickly turned hoses onto the blaze before the arrival of the Grafton and South Grafton fire brigades. It took fire officers about two hours to completely extinguish the blaze.

Captain Greg McLennan of the Grafton Fire Brigade said the flames caused major damage to electrical gear at the mill, but he said it could have been far worse.

"As we headed for the blaze, I was thinking about the fire that destroyed the Norply plywood mill in Kyogle last year and what a devastating event it was for the town," he said yesterday.

"Big River Timbers is one of Grafton's largest employers and I was hoping there would be no repeat of the Kyogle fire. The Junction Hill employees did a fantastic job in fighting the flames until we arrived."

A total of 18 firemen using two engines were involved in fighting Thursday night's fire. Captain McLennan said the cause of the blaze was not yet known.

nMeanwhile, the Grafton Fire Brigade is joining others throughout the State by throwing open its doors to the public between 10am and 2pm for an open day today. Four engines should make the kids' eyes light up, and they will also receive giveaways. The open day has been brought forward to give people advice about smoke detectors, which are mandatory in domestic premises from May 1.

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