New Brunswick

Penobsquis sawmill blaze a "terrifying scene," owner says

Fire broke out around 5 p.m. at Ayat Timbers International sawmill in Penobsquis on Aug. 3.

'It's totally, totally gone, burned down to the ground'

Fire broke out around 5 p.m. at Ayat Timbers International sawmill in Penobsquis on Saturday. (Submitted by Lisa Rodgers)

When Javed Mian arrived to his Penobsquis, N.B., sawmill Saturday evening, he saw a horrible blaze that he couldn't believe.

"It's just a terrifying scene, the inferno, the intensity of fire, just devastating," he said.

Mian owns Ayat Timbers International. At around 5 p.m., his neighbour called him to tell him the mill was on fire.

Mian said about two hours prior he had gone to check the moisture levels of about 35,000 board feet of wood drying in the kiln. He said everything seemed fine.

Penobsquis, Petitcodiac and Sussex fire crews were already on the scene when Mian arrived. The fire burned for almost five hours before it was put out.

No one was in or near the building when the fire started, but Mian said the flames spread to the pile of about 60,000 board feet of wood waiting to be trimmed and shipped, as well as the trees surrounding the property.

The Department of Energy and Natural Resources was on the scene as well.

Extent of the damage

Mian said the kiln was destroyed. "It's totally, totally gone, burned down to the ground."

Luckily, the main operations building survived, so the company can continue to cut lumber. It just won't be able to dry any wood until a new kiln is obtained.

The fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire. Mian said he is eager for answers.

Mian said the fire raged for about five hours before crews were able to put it out. (Submitted by Shelly Damon)

[The] fire marshal told me that apparently all the safety measures that could have been humanly possible were in place," he said.

Mian hasn't determined the cost of the damage or how much it will cost to rebuild.

"I just couldn't believe that this could ever happen to us."

The mill only began operating in September 2018.

The Penobsquis Fire Department that led the response on Saturday was not immediately available for a comment.