Fire rages at local mill

JUNCTION CITY — Firefighters from 11 midvalley fire agencies rushed to a predawn fire Sunday at the Wood Recovery Lumber Mill near Highway 99N at 29229 Milliron Road.

The fire was reported at 1:49 a.m. Sunday. A log deck and warehouse were among the parts of the business burning when crews arrived. Flames reportedly could be seen in the night sky as far away as Springfield, and Junction City Fire Chief Brandon Nicol said that embers were floating as high as 200 feet around 2 a.m.

Lane Fire Authority Chief Terry Ney predicted that the fire probably would burn for days. Nicol said equipment at the mill and some fire department equipment also were damaged.

Blachly-Lane Electric had to shut off the power to three different industrial businesses — Lane Forest Products, JC Biomethane and the mill — at around 3 a.m., according to Operations Manager Matt Smith. The company restored power around 3:30 p.m. to two of the businesses, but had not restored power to the mill so firefighters safely could access the fire.

Bonneville Power Administration lines near the blaze were not damaged. Nicol said rain helped keep trees along the highway from catching fire, which prevented the major outages that could have resulted if flames had spread to the adjacent power lines.

However, no more rain is in the immediate forecast. The National Weather Service is predicting mostly sunny skies with high temperatures ranging from 79 Monday into the low 80s through Thursday, with overnight lows in the low to mid-50s.

Several online business databases said the mill operator, Goshen Inc., was founded in 1992 and is a single operation in Junction City that is more commonly known as Wood Recovery. It manufactures wood chips. The business, which reportedly is sited on 30 acres, has $1.4 million in annual revenue and employs 13 people.

Information about the future of the business was not available Sunday, as messages left for company officials were not immediately returned.

The agencies that went to help the Junction City Fire Department included the Lane Fire Authority and Eugene Springfield Fire.

Nicol said the Oregon State Fire Marshals Office was investigating the cause of the fire and assessing the damage.

The fire did not affect the fourth and final day of Junction City’s annual Scandinavian Festival, which draws big crowds and is a significant economic boost. A woman who was staffing the information booth said late Sunday afternoon that the Norwegian Day activities continued Sunday without interruption.

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