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Minor fire burns at mill

No significant damage occurred

— Officials are investigating a fire last week at the Omak Wood Products mill.

Omak Fire Department was called to the scene at 6:43 p.m. last Wednesday to battle a fire that began outside the mill at the green end of the facility and spread to the inside of the building at 1100 E. Eighth Ave.

Fire Chief Kevin Bowling said the sprinkler system indoors helped control the blaze, but about 29 total firefighters “still had to take suppression action on it.”

Bowling said Omak and Okanogan firefighters worked on the fire until 7:55 p.m.

The fire, adjacent to the building housing the log intake area, was first noticed by two mill employees who were working indoors, mill spokesman Paul Queary said.

Queary said no material damage was done, but some wiring was burned and the old wooden siding beneath the metal exterior was charred.

“The fire suppressing system inside the mill functioned exactly as designed, minimizing damage,” he said.

Bowling said the cause of the fire is unknown and is still under investigation at this time.

Queary said further internal investigation will be conducted to discuss how to reduce future risk and review the effectiveness of emergency response.

He said the blaze appears to have started beneath a conveyor that carries partially peeled logs back out of the mill.

“The leadership and members of the volunteer fire department are to be commended for their rapid, effective response, as well as the mill security team and other employees for their quick, professional handling of the situation,” Queary said.

Bowling said 23 Omak firefighters responded to the scene, while Okanogan also responded with a truck and six firefighters.

The Omak Wood Products mill recently reopened after a hiatus of nearly four years.

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