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Jobs offered to displaced mill workers

Employees displaced after a wildfire damaged a Roseburg Forest Products mill in Weed, Calif., have been offered jobs in Douglas County while the company repairs the veneer facility.

Roseburg Forest Products’ target is to have the Weed site up and running by Thanksgiving, said CEO and President Allyn Ford.

“We are committed to this operation and the people here, both the employees and the community,” Ford said in a news release.

During a town hall meeting with employees and family members Thursday, Ford offered 60 workers positions at the company’s sites in Riddle and Dillard for the time it takes to get the Weed facility back up and running. The employees will be provided housing and meals assistance.

The Boles fire whipped through Weed Monday afternoon, burning more than 100 structures. As of Friday morning, the fire had consumed 479 acres and was 90 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry.

At the Roseburg Forest Products’ mill in Weed, significant damage occurred to outbuildings, residual piles and certain areas of the manufacturing facility. The main processing area and facility were not destroyed.

“We had such an incredible response from our people at the plant,” Weed Plant Manager Jeff Scholberg said. “After being evacuated, they voluntarily chose to fight the fire at the mill, some knowing that their own homes were going up in flames.”

While repairs are being made and production is stalled, the company will move veneer inventory up to its Oregon sites beginning next week. The displaced employees will man extra shifts in order to keep up with production needs and existing orders, the release stated. Logs will also be moved from Weed to Oregon.

“The plan is to have Weed employees start working up in Oregon by Monday afternoon,” said Kellye Wise, vice president of human resources and labor relations.

More than 170 people are employed at the Weed site, said Steve Killgore, vice president of sales and marketing.

“We are trying to get as many people back to work as soon as possible,” he said.

Employees who remain in Weed will help with cleanup and repairs. The company said it will provide temporary housing for Weed employees who are unable to return home or lost their homes entirely. Counseling services are also available for employees and families.

Roseburg Forest Products is based in Dillard. It operates a softwood veneer facility in Weed, which is 176 miles south of Roseburg. The company purchased the Weed site from International Paper in 1982 and has produced veneer for more than three decades.

“Weed is a critical part of our enterprise,” Vice President of Operations Grady Mulbery said. “Our objective at this point is to provide stability to the community as quickly as possible. While the impact of the fire will be felt by many for some time to come, it is Roseburg’s goal to get the mill back up and running as soon as possible.”

Reach reporter Christina George at 541-957-4202 or at cgeorge@nrtoday.com.

Employees displaced after the Boles fire damaged a Roseburg Forest Products mill in Weed, Calif., have been offered jobs in Douglas County while the company repairs the veneer facility. Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch