Fire consumes area sawmill

FORD RIVER TOWNSHIP – A fire broke out Monday afternoon at a sawmill in Ford River Township where flames, fueled by sawdust and lumber, quickly consumed structures. No injuries were reported.

Ford River Township Volunteer Fire Department responded to the emergency and was dispatched at 3:25 p.m., said Chief Jon Giese. Upon arrival at Best Cedar Products, 4470 I Road, a large structure was fully engulfed in flames with smoke pouring out from the site.

“It was a ‘surround and drown,'” Giese said, explaining firefighters hit the flames hard with hoses as they doused the fire that was fueled by wood products. A strong south wind also encouraged the blaze and carried smoke northward.

The fire destroyed a large tin building along with the sawmill equipment housed inside, said Giese. A semi trailer alongside the structure was destroyed. A small wooden storage shed also went up in flames. Two front-end loaders parked by the buildings were damaged from the intense heat, he added.

Cause of the fire is undetermined at this time, said Giese, noting the buildings were insured. Damage estimate is unknown for the sawmill owned by Terry Mercier.

Escanaba Public Safety provided mutual aid with its water pumper. Red Cross was on the scene with wet towels and water for firefighters. Rampart Ambulance was there on standby.

After dousing the fire, firefighters remained at the scene until 7:43 p.m., putting out hot spots.

“We made sure the fire was fully extinguished before we left,” Giese said.