British Columbia

Fire destroys Maple Ridge mill warehouses

Emergency crews fought two large fires Friday at a sawmill in the Ruskin area of Maple Ridge, east of Vancouver.
A fire broke out a sawmill in the Ruskin area of Maple Ridge on Friday morning. (Chad Pawson/CBC)

Emergency crews fought two large fires Friday at a sawmill in the Ruskin area of Maple Ridge, east of Vancouver.

The fire broke out at the Watkins Sawmill at 9414 288th Street around 9 a.m. PT and quickly destroyed two large metal buildings used to store shakes and shingles and chemicals used to preserved the wood.

About 12 fire trucks from around the region were called in to help fight the blaze, but it proved difficult for firefighters to get it under control.

Officials say the two buildings were unoccupied when the fire broke out and there are no reports of injuries.

At noon firefighters allowed the fire to burn itself out rather than risk spreading chemicals into the nearby Fraser River by flooding it with water.

There was no sprinkler system in the plant, said Maple Ridge Fire Chief Peter Grootendorst.

"Based on the location and the water supply here, it's difficult to have a sprinkler system," Grootendorst said. "They have to rely on people to spot the fire, there's no detection in the building."

The warehouse employs more than 100 people, but no one works in the building on Fridays.