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UPDATE: Boiler system nearly catches fire at Resolute sawmill

Fire crews say situation is under control but continue to monitor the boiler system at Resolute Forest Products sawmill after it nearly caught fire. 
Resolute Fire
Fire crews on standby at Resolute Forest Products sawmill Monday afternoon.

THUNDER BAY - Thunder Bay Fire Rescue crews remain on the scene at Resolute Forest Products sawmill after a fire near the boiler system that uses oil experienced a small explosion.

According to Thunder Bay Fire Rescue platoon chief, Shawn Merrifield, crews were called to the sawmill on Darrell Ave. early Monday morning after receiving reports of an automatic fire alarm. The call turned out to be a false alarm. However, a power outage caused a circulating pump in the boiler system to fail, which uses hot oil to heat the kilns.

“When the power outage happened, they have a remote pump that is natural gas fired but it failed to engage,” Merrifield explained. “Their maintenance staff were working on it to start moving the hot oil and that was when there was an event that had a loud bang and caused their expansion tank to catch on fire.”

Because of the power outage, maintenance crews at Resolute asked the two pumpers to remain on the scene in case of a fire. Luckily, because the two pumpers were already there, the fire was extinguished. A second alarm was then called and five pumpers and one aerial ladder responded to the scene.

Temperatures in the lines appear to be cooling down, Merrifield said but crews are remaining on the scene to monitor the situation.

“We determined the best course of action was to not circulate any oil and let it cool down naturally,” he said. “The temperature has been coming down so we are feeling pretty confident at this time, but we still have a lot of hot oil in there, about 11,000 gallons. We are still waiting to see if it will continue to cool down for us. The immediate danger of another explosion has passed we think, but we are still standing by in case there is a fire.”

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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