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Fire crews battle mill fire in Riddle

(Image courtesy Riddle Fire Department)

RIDDLE, Ore. -- Crews with Riddle Fire and neighboring departments responded to a mill fire at the Roseburg Forest Products plant in Riddle Sunday morning.

At 8:13 a.m. Sunday, Canyonville, South Umpqua, Tri City, and Myrtle Creek fire departments were dispatched to the fire in the GTS building, which fire officials describe as a building designed to house thousands of gallons of super-heated oil that supplies heat for the processing dryers and wood press.

There was a failure in the system burner where the oil was heated, the report said.

"With an unknown amount of oil in the burner, fire crews had a difficult time gaining access into the enclosed burner to put the oil fire out," fire officials said. "Oil fires are much like a grease fire; we don't want to add water. Adding water only makes the fire larger. In oil fires such as this, a high expansion foam is used to form a blanket over the oil to smother the fire and acts as cooling agent because small amounts of moisture in the foam converts to steam."

Due to the fire being contained inside the burner, it made it complex for crews to extinguish, the report said. "Because of the hazards with the potential for failure of the burner, the mill had to be shut down and evacuated." Workers were sent home while crews worked to extinguish the fire.

Riddle Fire Department used their 100-foot aerial platform truck to pump a dry, high expansion foam into the burners exhaust to attempt to smother the fire and allow the foam to act as a cooling agent, bringing the heated oil below its auto-ignition temperature, officials said.

The fire was extinguished at approximately 12:30 p.m.

It was contained to the burner with no additional damage and no injuries.

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