Fire rips through North Okanagan lumber mill

Fire broke out at Mardan Lumber Sales May 17, 2016.
Image Credit: Rob Ellis

NEAR SPALLUMCHEEN - A witness says a fire at a North Okanagan lumber yard this afternoon was like an inferno.

The fire broke out around 1 p.m. today, May 17, at Mardan Lumber Sales on Highway 97, on the Okanagan Indian Band reserve west of Vernon near Spallumcheen. 

Witness Rob Ellis, a former firefighter, says the blaze grew quickly due to strong winds and it wasn’t long before flames engulfed the small mill. As the fire reached fuel cans, there were explosions, he says.

“It was an inferno for a good while,” he says.

Ellis says he remained on scene to make sure everyone was alright. To his knowledge, no one was hurt.

Members of the Okanagan Indian Band volunteer Fire Department arrived about 20 minutes after it started with four trucks and six firefighters. The fire made its way into a sawdust pile and continued to burn as of 2:30 p.m., Ellis says.

“I think this will smolder for two to three days with the amount of fuel there to burn,” he says.

He says the mill building itself burned to the ground.

According to witness Rob Ellis, the fire burned the mill to the ground and made its way into a large sawdust pile.
According to witness Rob Ellis, the fire burned the mill to the ground and made its way into a large sawdust pile.
Image Credit: Rob Ellis

— This story was updated at 6:35 a.m. May 18, 2016 to clarify the location of the fire. 

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