Nova Scotia

2 firefighters, 2 mill workers recovering after blaze at paper mill

All but one of the four people injured by a fire at Port Hawkesbury Paper in Point Tupper, N.S., are out of the hospital and the fourth person is expected to be released later Friday.

5 fire departments responded to Thursday-night fire in Point Tupper, N.S.

Fire crews from as far away as Antigonish were called to a fire at Port Hawkesbury Paper in Point Tupper, N.S., on Thursday night. An image of the plant from 2013 is shown. (Wendy Martin/CBC)

Four people are recovering after being injured in a stubborn fire at Port Hawkesbury Paper in Point Tupper, N.S.

Two firefighters had to be rushed to hospital after working to put out a blaze that broke out in a wood chip silo Thursday night.

"They were taken to Antigonish and then they were transferred to Halifax. The indication was that there was exposure to CO2 [carbon dioxide]," said Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm Beaton.

One of those firefighters has already been released from hospital, while the other is expected to be released later on Friday.

The other two people injured in the fire work at the mill, according to a news release from Port Hawkesbury Paper. Both of those workers are now out of hospital. Neither the company, nor Unifor, the union that represents the workers, would say how the two employees were hurt.

The cause of the fire hasn't been determined.

Curtis Doucet, the fire chief with the Port Hawkesbury Volunteer Fire Department, says the two injured firefighters were on top of the silo when they were hurt. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

Workers at the plant noticed the fire around 7:20 p.m. on Thursday. The mill's emergency response team then called for help.

Fire crews from five different communities showed up a short time later. Even the Antigonish fire department, located about 60 kilometres away, was called in.

It took all of them to knock down the blaze and the fire is now under control, but it still hasn't been extinguished.

Port Hawkesbury Paper said its emergency teams are making progress putting out the fire and no outside fire departments are on-site anymore.

When fire crews arrived Thursday night, smoke was already billowing out of the silo, but the large metal silo was sealed and machinery had to be used to remove the steel doors to give firefighters access, said Jim Cavanagh, chief of the Port Hastings Volunteer Fire Department.

The Port Hawkesbury Paper mill is located in the community of Point Tupper. (CBC)

"It's a huge pile of wood chips that's in there smouldering and burning in the middle of a pile, so [we] hit it with water cannons and water screens," he said.

Machinery was then used to dig out some of the wood chips so firefighters could better douse the fire with water.

"When you mention the word silo, there's all kinds of dangers in there as it is, but the mill has qualified people and we go in under their guidance … because they're the experts on their site," said Cavanagh.

'I was very concerned,' says fire chief

The two injured firefighters were on top of the silo when they were hurt, said Curtis Doucet, the fire chief for the Port Hawkesbury Volunteer Fire Department.

"Once I got the word that they needed medical attention at the top of the silo, I was very concerned," said Doucet. "We got our members out as quick as we can and got them medical attention."

"I'm very relieved the members are doing well."

Brenda Beaton Chisholm is the mayor of Port Hawkesbury. (Gary Mansfield/CBC)

It's unclear how much damage was done to the mill, but the company said that thanks to the work of firefighters and its own emergency team, production at the mill will not be impacted.

Port Hawkesbury Paper said it will co-operate with the Department of Labour as the incident is investigated.

As of last July, the business employed 330 people. and produced 360,000 tonnes of product a year for use in retail flyers, magazines and catalogues.