Investigators unable to pinpoint cause of Blackwell Dairy fire - InfoNews

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Investigators unable to pinpoint cause of Blackwell Dairy fire

FILE PHOTO - Firefighters were on scene watching hotspots the morning after the late night fire at the Blackwell Dairy processing plant on June 14, 2017.
June 20, 2017 - 10:30 AM

'THE BUILDING IS COMPLETELY GUTTED'

KAMLOOPS – The cause of the blaze that gutted the Blackwell Dairy processing plant last week will remain a mystery, but the family is pressing on and the cows are producing milk already.

Ray Webster, fire inspector with Kamloops Fire Rescue says after an extensive seven hour investigation, there are no conclusions to the cause of the devastating fire that started late on June 14, 2017

"In this case, most of the walls are gone. But, we do know where the fire started approximately," Webster says.

He did say the fire started in the southeast corner of the building, by the loading docks. There were two delivery trucks and a 47-foot trailer in the area.

The damage was so extensive, that crews needed a backhoe to lift the heavy metal roofing. None of the processing equipment survived the fire.

"The building is completely gutted," Webster says.

In the meantime, the Blackwell family is just waiting for the nod from the insurance company to start rebuilding.

"As soon as they give us the go-ahead to clean up, we will," barn manager Laura Hunter says.

Hunter says the family is sticking together and they are doing well, all things considered.

"We've had lots of support from our friends and family. We will pull through this together," she says.

Interestingly, the front office was protected during the fire because the ceiling had a cement mezzanine.

"It's funny, we were able to pull papers and computers out. That was all saveable. It's wet, but the data is salvageable," Hunter says.

One of the most important tasks for the Blackwell family is to keep the cows in their routine and keep milking. Before the fire, all the milk they had went through their processing plant. Until they can rebuild, the B.C. Milk Board will pick up their milk every second day and send it to another processing plant.

"It does take a while to get caught up, but you can feel that they are relaxed and right back to the regular routine," Hunter says.

Hunter says the farm tours scheduled for July will continue as planned.


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