Faulty switch started Ruskin Mill fire

Fire department, insurance company same conclusion

The fire that burned down the Waldun Forest Products cedar shake and shingle mill was started by a faulty electrical switch, the Maple Ridge Fire Department has concluded.

The local fire department has completed its investigation of the fire, as has the mill’s insurance company, with both coming to the same conclusion, said assistant fire chief Mark Smitton.

“The main [electrical] feed coming into the mill had an on/off switch … and something in that switch failed, causing the fire,” he said.

Smitton added the fire was not related to maintenance work being performed in the mill near the fire’s source, the day before the fire occurred.

“There was some welding being done … but it had nothing to do with the fire,” he said.

The fire started shortly after midnight Aug. 26 at the mill on 287th Street and Lougheed Highway in Ruskin, near the Mission border.

At the height of the blaze, flames stretched 30 metres into the night sky and could be seen from Abbotsford.

The family-run mill had been in operation in Ruskin for almost 40 years.

It was built in 1974 by Wynn Walker, before a Maple Ridge bylaw requiring sprinklers.

According to the company website, Walker eventually merged three mills to form the Waldun Group. Waldun Forest Products is now one of the largest operations in the shake and shingle industry.

Waldun is considering leasing another mill to maintain production lost in the Ruskin fire and keep those employees working.

No decision has been made regarding whether to rebuild the mill.

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