Nfld. & Labrador

Fire strikes Sexton Lumber, holding building burns to the ground

Fire was seen burning at one of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest lumber mills in Bonavista Bay late Thursday afternoon.

Fire was seen burning at one of Newfoundland and Labrador's largest lumber mills late Thursday afternoon. 

The blaze broke out around 4:30 p.m. at Sexton Lumber in Bloomfield, on the Bonavista Peninsula.

In an email sent Thursday night, Neil Greening, the controller at Sexton Lumber, said a building on the edge of the property was completely destroyed.

"There was a fire in the dried bark/sawdust holding building on the outside edge of the property. The fire is contained and is in the process of being extinguished," Greening said in an email.

Greening added the sawmill, kiln, planer mill, drying plant, office and inventory sections were all undamaged in the fire.

Kevin Sexton, the owner of the mill, said a number of things were lost in the fire.

"We lost a complete drawing facility, the holding facility is completely gone, all the conveying equipment destroyed," he said.

Passerby Cordell Greening said he noticed the fire as he was driving by the area.

"I stopped and noticed that the sawdust pit in Sexton's Lumber was completely ablaze," Greening told CBC.

"The building itself was almost burned completely to the ground. The sheet metal walls around the building were all twisted and almost let go.The only thing holding the structure of the building up was sheet metal but that's not going to last much longer."

Extensive damage

Fire fighters arrived at the scene within minutes after they were called, but it took them over two hours to put out the blazing fire.

Jeff Pettle, the captain at the Lethbridge fire department, said the fire was a challenge, but it could have been worse.

"When everybody arrived on scene it was pretty out of control," he said. "Luckily there was no lost life or no injuries but damage to the building was pretty extensive"

This is not the first fire at Sexton Lumber - several years ago the company's planer mill operation was burnt to the ground.

This time around, Sexton suspects there was a malfunction in one of the dryers that then leaked into the main system.

He said employees knew the what to do and how to stay out of harms way when the fire spread.

The company is insured, though Sexton thinks it will take at least 3-4 months to rebuild what was lost.

The RCMP says the cause of the fire is still under investigation, though foul play is not suspected.