Fire damages Sierra Pine mill in Medford

A three-alarm fire Friday afternoon damaged parts of Sierra Pine in north Medford, but the mill hoped to be back online by this morning at the latest, according to a mill representative.

Orville Shockey, director of operations for manufacturing, said the fire caused no major structural damage but crews had to clean up water and patch holes from firefighting efforts Saturday.

The fire started in the press room and quickly spread to the baghouse, where dust and particulates are filtered to prevent release into the air, Medford Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Brian Fish said. About 10 engines and 40 personnel from Medford, Jackson County Fire District Nos. 3 and 5 and other agencies responded to the fire, which started shortly after 3 p.m. Friday.

A ladder truck was needed to fight the blaze, which traveled into the wall space and roof of the 50-foot-tall building. Crews chased flareups and hot spots for several hours, Fish said.

Wood fiber built up in insulation around a steam pipe that caught fire from the heat likely started the blaze, Shockey said. A cost estimate of damage was unavailable, he said.

Sierra Pine, at 2685 N. Pacific Highway, manufactures medium-density fiberboard used in wood moldings and furniture. It employes 130 people and operates 24/7, Shockey said. The fire shut down the production plant, which crews hoped to reopen by late Saturday night or this morning, but the finishing department was unaffected, he said.

Sprinkler systems were functioning and no one was injured, he said.

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