Crews Battle Fire at Springfield Mill

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SPRINGFIELD, Ore. — The fire started a little before 5 p.m. Thursday evening and watched closely by fire crews, allowed to continue on through the night. Firefighters have yet to get inside to see what happened, but say they believe it began in a dryer. Despite the fact that Eugene-Springfield fire crews showed up just two minutes after the first alarm went off, it wasn’t enough to save the building. Most of damage may have been contained to the Springfield Plywood and Veneer Mill on South F Street, but the force of the fire could be seen for miles in the billows of smoke emanating from the flames and drawing crowds to watch as crews fought to put it out. Eugene-Springfield Fire Chief Randy Groves says, “We’ve had numerous explosions. We had two unconnected structures that were involved in the fire as well as a wild fire that started behind us that we’re getting under control now.” Even with about 100 firefighters on scene from seven different jurisdictions and some help from above, it was a task not done easily. “We did have some water supply problems in that the fire hydrants were not municipal fire hydrants on this side of the tracks. It’s a private system that’s a part of the mill and with the fire that system failed,” says Chief Groves. All the employees had managed to get out once the fire got started, but safety concerns were still high and an initial alert called for evacuations within a mile-radius of the mill. “Exposure was our primary concern and we were also concerned with not knowing exactly what was burning. So we wanted to check and confirm that,” says Chief Groves. That first alert was soon scaled down as crews got things under control, now the focus shifts to what is likely to be a lengthy spot watch. Chief Groves says, “With that much material burned, producing the kind of heat we’re seeing generated by this fire, I don’t think anyone is going to be sifting through the fire scene itself in the next day or so. It’s going to be smoldering for a while.” No deaths were reported, but one patient was seen at McKenzie-Willamette. Staff there say the wounds were superficial, so the patient was not admitted.

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