Canada forest fires force lumber mill closures, prompt state of emergency

Canada forest fires force lumber mill closures, prompt state of emergency

11 July 2017

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Canada –  BRITISH COLUMBIA – As wildfires continue to rage across British Columbia, several big Canadian lumber mills have been forced to temporarily close.

Norbord Inc., the world’s largest producer of oriented strand board (OSB), announced it temporarily suspended all production at its mill in central British Columbia. Norbord runs 13 OSB mills across North America and employs over 2,600 people.

West Fraser, one of Canada’s largest producers of lumber, LVL, MDF, plywood, and other wood products, has closed three locations in British Columbia.
Tolko Industries, headquartered in Vernon, B.C., says more than 60 fires are burning in the Cariboo area, several of which are threatening the community of Williams Lake and surrounding rural communities. As a result it closed its Lakeview and Soda Creek divisions July 10, and managers are meeting daily to determine the operating status and posting updates for workers at and Twitter The latest post shows the plants still closed.

“Our top priority is the safety and well-being of our employees; many of whom have been displaced from their homes,” the company said in a statement. “At the mills, asset protection will be in place 24/7. We have our onsite team conducting fire protection tasks. We continue to work with BC Fire Services and will provide regular fire updates and information for employees as it becomes available.”

Wildfires are rapidly spreading across the western United States and Canada, forcing thousands of evacuations. Military personnel have been deployed by both countries in an effort to battle the flames.

British Columbia even declared its own state of emergency – its first in 14 years – as it says over 200 fires are burning across the province. More than 10,000 people have been evacuated.

Kinder Morgan’s oil pipeline in British Columbia is a growing concern as fires enter its vicinity. The crude oil pipeline is still operating, but the company said its taking precautions and monitoring the situation carefully. Kinder Morgan is the largest energy infrastructure company in North America.

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