Disasters & Accidents
6:15 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Fire Completely Destroys Springfield Plywood And Veneer Mill; Workers Displaced

A helicopter dumps water on flames at the Springfield Plywood and Veneer mill July 17, 2014.
A helicopter dumps water on flames at the Springfield Plywood and Veneer mill July 17, 2014.
Credit Angela Kellner

UPDATE: Thursday 10:00 pm 

A fast-moving fire engulfed and destroyed the Springfield Plywood and Veneer mill Thursday. No injuries were reported.

To see a video of the helicopter dropping water on the fire, visit our KLCC Facebook page.

A Weyerhaeuser helicopter called in by the Oregon Department of Forestry drops water on the flames at the lumber mill in south Springfield. Fire damaged the mill's own water supply system, leaving firefighters scrambling to bring in tanker trucks and getting refills. Stacks of plywood and lumber were burning along with equipment and machinery. All of the mill employees got to safety in time. The fire is believed to have started in a wood dryer, according to Randy Groves, Chief of the Eugene-Springfield Fire Departments.

Groves: "The fire actually extended into two other structures that we were able to stop. And then we have numerous spot fires in the wild land behind us that we're still engaged in right now. But we had a pretty good thermal column going on that was taking smoke, fire and burning particulate up into the atmosphere and as that goes out and cools it drops and it starts other fires ahead of the scene. And most of it is being pushed by the prevailing winds that right now are heading to the south and that's where most of our assets are right now. We're just between Mount Pisgah and what's still burning and we're mopping that up."

Credit Angela Kellner

Groves says an industrial fire like this one can burn for several days. There was a brief neighborhood evacuation in Springfield as a precaution. The mill is owned by Swanson Group, which says it will immediately ramp up production at its mill in Glendale, near Medford. The company has not yet made a decision about rebuilding. For now, Swanson wants to make sure the affected employees are taken care of.

 Update Thursday 7:15 p.m.

Eugene-Springfield Fire Department reports the fire is not under control, but it is contained. There is no current concern of the fire spreading further. The evacuation order has been lifted with the exception of the area south of the railroad tracks and west of South 28th.
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There is an evacuation in effect for a one-mile radius of 26th and M Street in Springfield. Everyone in that area is being alerted by the (CENS) Community Emergency Notification System to evacuate. Emergency crews are on the scene of a fire at the Springfield Forest Products Mill on South F Street, near South 18th and Booth Kelly Road.

Officials say the mill is fully involved in the fire. All employees have been accounted for. Several explosions at the mill have been reported, which could be from propane or glue tanks.

Several surrounding streets are closed and responders are asking people to stay out of the area. The fire started this afternoon at 4:41 p.m.

The cause is under investigation.