SAGINAW, Ore. -- With the loss of Whitsell Mill, many Saginaw residents are wondering what will happen to their community. Resident Peter Ruth says he was helping a friend with an odd job when he saw the smoke and flames coming from the mill.
"In the immediate area it's pretty important, it does produce a lot of revenue," Ruth said. "But with it not being here, well then the whole area is going to suffer.”
READ MORE: Fire destroys Whitsell mill in Saginaw
We've seen this in our community before. It was nearly four years ago when a Springfield lumber mill was destroyed by a fire, taking 250 jobs with it. It took less than an hour for that mill to burn to the ground.
Ken Mitchell, owner of Mitchell's Mercantile in Saginaw, doesn't believe his store will go down with the mill. He's owned it for 41 years and says a lot of his regular customers work at the mill and many of them have become friends.
“I'll probably be the most hugely impacted,” Mitchell said. “I'll be fine, it's the people who lost their jobs that are kind of a concern.”
In an email, Lane County Commissioner Gary Williams called the fire "a sad and tragic loss of good, family-wage jobs in our area, and the loss of a great manufacturing plant." He says he visited with a few employees of the site and wants to thank the firefighters who responded. Williams says the real challenge now is getting these people some help and back to work.
Cottage Grove Mayor Jeff Gowing tells KEZI 9 News he also spoke with firefighters on scene and Cottage Grove has community groups that can provide some help to people impacted by the fire.