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Wood products company investigates if machine failure may have caused wildfire

California Wildfires
Posted at 3:37 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-08 18:37:09-04

WEED, Calif. — An Oregon-based wood products company said they're investigating the possible failure of a water-spraying machine at its mill was what may have caused a wildfire in Northern California.

In a news release, Roseburg Forest Products Co. said that the machinery from a third-party equipment manufacturer is used to cool ash at its veneer mill.

"The process for handling the ash and removing it safely depends on the proper functioning of the third-party machinery, so it's logical to investigate the potential failure of that machinery as the proximate cause of the fire," said Pete Hillan, spokesman for Roseburg Forest Products Co. "Roseburg is working closely with state and local investigators to determine if this is the case."

The company also announced that although the fire's origin is still to be determined, they plan to provide up to $50 million for a community restoration fund.

The Mill Fire erupted on Sept. 2 at the company's facility in Weed, the Associated Press reported.

The company explained in the news release that wood remnants fuel the mill's electrical power and after it consumes the wood, the generator ejects ash, which is then sprayed with cooling water by a " third-party-supplied machine."

The company said they are investigating whether that third-party machine failed to cool the ash sufficiently, thereby igniting the fire.

The fire has destroyed 107 structures and damaged 26 others, and has also killed two people, the news outlet reported.

On Tuesday, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said two women, ages 66 and 73, were found dead by first responders on Friday at different locations in the town of Weed.