UPDATED: Wood chips ignite at Boise mill

Fire crews spray water on a chip bin that caught fire at the Boise Cascade mill in Medford. (Cell phone photo by Ryan Pfeil)

Firefighters from Jackson County Fire District No. 3 and Medford Fire-Rescue are working to extinguish a fire that ignited stored wood chips at the Boise Cascade mill at 3285 N. Pacific Highway this morning.

The fire in the system that collects wood waste for storage was reported at 11:39 a.m. It affected two chip bins, officials said. No one was injured.

Fire crews sprayed water on the outside of the collection bins to cool them, said Hugh Holden, District 3 fire marshal.

Crews planned to take the chips out with heavy equipment and spread them on the ground, then spray them with water to ensure no embers remain, he said.

He said such fires aren't unusual, but investigators might not find the exact cause.

"One little spark gets through the ducts to the chip bin and away it goes," said Arlen Blenkush, a battalion chief at the fire district.

1:10 p.m. Boise Cascade's powerhouse superintendent Carl Monroe said safety measures at the mill stop the flow of wood chips if a spark is detected in the ducts or storage bins.

Blenkush said the fire was doused successfully by early afternoon.

"It was very, very uneventful, just the way we like it," he said of the successful efforts to quash the fire.


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