FIRE At The Mill!

We weren’t expecting to have a fire threaten the mill.  The photos below tell the story.

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Firefighters in pencil.

I added this sketch of the firefighters after “Z” at Zeebra Designs called for folks to draw in her post Time Out For Art – YOU CAN DO THIS.  Here you go Z!

The rain has been replaced by wind and dry conditions once again.  Fire returned, only this time instead of in the woods, it was at the mill.  With winds blowing 25 to 30 mph a fire broke out at the mill next door and was being blown right at our site.

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The fire started next door.

It was all hands on deck.  The crew poured in from all over the plant site to fight the fire.

fire, mill, photography, wildfire, firefighters

fire, mill, photography, wildfire, firefighters

Everybody pitch in.

Hoses were laid and water was flowing onto the fire.  Soon, the regular fire crews arrived on scene.

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This firefighter is patrolling for spot fires.

We were afraid the fire would spread into the pole stacks, or God forbid, the chip pile.

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Clearing fireline.

Our dozer was building a fireline in case the fire tried to jump the canal.

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The logging trucks had to stop while the fire was being fought.

The air tanker arrived ready to drop fire retardant.

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Air tanker

The effort continued on the ground and we held the fire at the edge of our mill site.

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Eating smoke.

Then the Helicopter arrived with the Bambi Bucket.

Air support.

Air support.

The helicopter was scooping water from the Sacramento River to dump onto the fire.

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Making the drop.

With the spread of the fire was stopped, mop up operations began.

fire, mill, photography, wildfire, firefighters, logging truck

Mop up operations.

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Mopping up is putting out all the smoldering embers.

Our crew moved fast to get water on the fire and the fire department responded quickly.  Together we were able to stop the fire before it could get into our yard.  As a result of everyone’s quick action this wasn’t a big problem for us.  I’m not certain how the neighbors fared, but I think they did okay also.

fire, mill, photography, wildfire, firefighters, logging truck

The crew at the other mill were busy battling the fire in their chip pile.

This is just another reminder that we are in for a long fire season this year.

67 thoughts on “FIRE At The Mill!

  1. Wow glad you came through that one ok. Does the fact that you’ve now had a fire burn so close mean there is less of a risk for the rest of the season? Or is that wishful thinking? Good luck for the next few months anyhow.


  2. I think right now the best protection comes from yours neighbors. Everyone must be alert and ready to work.
    Here on Brazil we have a simple way to fight the fire . Depends on the amount of water that you can use.
    We stick a garden hose and left on for hours to soak the ground, thus preventing the fire from spreading to the homes.Good luck poet.


  3. Tim, my Dad worked in a sawmill for 40 some years. The biggest fear was fire. In fact my younger brother, who was 12 at the time, learned how to drive a truck so that he could go and get help when a fire flared up in the sawmill or planer. I can’t remember where it was. Every hand is on deck for that situation.


    • Sawmills do tend to burn fast and hot. The modern mills are better at clearing the wood debris, but there is still plenty to catch on fire. It is an occupational hazard of working in the wood products industry. Your dad knew there was no messing around when it came to fire.


  4. Wow, what a scary time. My husband had a timber framing company for many years. Here in the midwest we don’t normally have to worry about such dry conditions, but the thought of fire in the wood chips is nasty. We never had a smoker in the shop and the sawdust was hauled off fairly often by horse stable people, but there were times when the chips were thick on the floor during production. I wouldn’t like the idea of sparks around that.


    • Chip pile fires are notoriously hard to put out. They smolder for days. Our neighbor had another fire the next day after the one in this post. It was in an overhead chip bin and it dropped embers into a chip trailer. It burned the trailer to the ground. I think if they didn’t have bad luck they would have no luck at all.


  5. well drawn and a great choice to illustrate your post. all fires are horrible, and this one was way too close for comfort for all of you. the smoke must make it really difficult.
    i’m glad that everyone worked together and put it out for good.


    • It looked big, but when all was said and done it was only about 3 acres. It did put up lots of smoke. Fortunately, no building or wood products caught on fire. That would have been bad.


  6. Wow – intense.

    But I read the comments & it’s good to hear now you’re looking better for the season, having had fire.


    • It was exciting to say the least, but we have to live with wildfire here. It is very common. Many of our crew members are volunteer fireman or like me used to be firefighters, which is quite helpful.


  7. Wow! I’m glad you all are okay! Wonderful sketch and photographs. It’s nice to hear about the silver lining of the fire burn helping for the rest of the season. Hoping that it is not a busy fire season for you all!


  8. Fire has always fascinated me. I participate in prescription burns for our forest preserves. That is a bit different than what you’ve going on there! No helicopters or planes dropping water! I couldn’t imagine having to battle those blazes. Great drawing!


    • I too have been involved in many prescription burns. They were fun to be involved with and generally had great results. The wildfires tend to be quite the opposite and destroy forests. My wife and I used to live in the Sierras. On our property we thinned the trees and underburned the debris for the purpose of reducing the fire risk and creating a healthier forest. As a result we had an explosion of wildflowers. It was awesome.


  9. Fasinating… fires never cease to amaze me with their power sort of like water it never ceases to amaze me either. Together these forces of nature fight quite often. As much as we humans try to contain fire and water it is just a temporary harnessing of the power. I think that is why it fasinates me so much… something that never plays by the rules… yet manages to rule us. Anyway… happy you are safe& great photos


    • Yes, fire never leaves us. It is always a presence we have of be aware of. We never think of it around here as “if we have a fire”, but “when and where the fire will occur.”


  10. What a story, Tim. I was feeling anxious just reading your photo-narrative. Wonderful tribute to the firefighters, and your own crew. Well done all, I’m very glad you suffered no real damage.

    Must tell you, that drawing you’re now using for your blog header is an absolute gem– beautiful work, sir!


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