News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

2-alarm fire damages Freres Plant 4

A 2-alarm fire damaged a pair of fuel storage silos at a Freres Engineered Wood facility in Lyons on Friday night. The facility was closed at the time and neither firefighters nor Freres employees were injured.

More than 40 firefighters and 11 pieces of apparatus responded, according to the Lyons Rural Fire Protection District.

The report said that the call came in at 10:04 p.m.  “With the quick responses from our volunteers we were able to get a knockdown,” the department said.

Freres President Rob Freres, who was on the scene by 10:30 p.m., said that a log crane operator “saw the flames and radioed it in. That started the process.”

The silos provided wood fuel to the boiler that powers operations in Freres’ Plant 4. Freres said the company has set up a temporary conveyor system to provide fuel to the boiler, which he said would be back online by June 27’s graveyard shift.

Replacing the damaged silos and conveyors will take approximately 6 to 8 weeks, Freres said.

No word was available on the cause of the fire, and Freres said investigators likely will not discover the cause. 

“It could have been a hot bearing that ignited some of the wood fuels,” he said, “but I’m doubtful we will learn the ignition source.”

Freres employees have gone through emergency training and the plants have fire hoses near the silos and throughout the company’s facilities. “Some of the hoses were used and some were melted,” Freres said.

He praised the emergency response.

“We are blessed to have the department on 12th Street (just a couple of blocks away),” Freres said. “They are all volunteers and made up of many of our employees and families. They did an outstanding job and we are very grateful for their good work.”

Freres said that “it took awhile to remove the fuel from the silos and get the fire out. It wasn’t until 7 a.m. Monday that the second silo was empty. It’s been a process.”

Freres said the company has deluge systems, which are designed to spray high volumes of water over large areas in other plant facilities and that the company intends to add one in Plant 4.

Assisting the Lyons Rural Fire Protection District were crews and equipment from Aumsville, Scio, Gates, Stayton, including the district’s Mehama station, Sublimity and Salem. A total of 41 firefighters participated, the report said.

Freres Engineered Wood is the Santiam Canyon’s largest employer with approximately 500 employees. The firm specializes in mass plywood panels, veneer, plywood, lumber and ag products such as chips and sawdust.

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