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Substation fire knocks out power to Tolko’s Armstrong lumber, plywood plants

Incident happened Wednesday, Dec. 28, at 4 a.m.; no injuries
An electrical fire at an on-site substation knocked out power to Tolko’s Armstrong division’s lumber and plywood plants Wednesday, Dec. 28. (File photo)

An electrical fire knocked out power to Tolko’s Armstrong division’s lumber and plywood plants.

The blaze happened at 4 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 28.

“The fire happened in a substation close to the log yard,” said Armstrong Spallumcheen Fire Chief Ian Cummings.

“It was self-contained and there were no exposures nearby.”

Tolko communications advisor Chris Downey said the substation is in a cinderblock building on the Armstrong property and had “some kind of failure, which caused a smolder in the building’s roof insulation.”

“Our staff on-site monitored the small fire to make sure it didn’t spread to any of our operations, and because there’s electricity involved, we had the fire department come by to make sure it was fully extinguished once BC Hydro turned off the power,” said Downey.

Tolko’s cogeneration plant, which is on a different substation, is again operating after losing power for a couple of hours.

“There was no damage to the mills or logs, and the investigation into the cause and the impact is still ongoing,” said Downey. “Both mills were down for the holidays this week, so there was support staff on site but not a full operating shift.”

Nobody was injured at the Tolko fire.

The Vernon-based forest industry giant announced late Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 28, that it was extending downtime at the Armstrong division with things to be re-evaluated at the end of January. Downtime was also being extended at Tolko’s Cariboo mill in Soda Creek near Williams Lake.

More than 350 people are employed at those two operations.

“The decision to take downtime in January at Tolko’s Armstrong Lumber and Soda Creek facilities was made before the fire, so it was not a factor,” said Downey.

The fire call for the local department came 24 hours after crews dealt and battled a house fire on Highland Park Road in Armstrong, part of an incredibly busy holiday season.

“We have had 13 calls in four days starting Christmas Eve,” said Cummings.

READ MORE: Tolko extends downtime at mills in North Okanagan, Cariboo

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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