Three fire departments respond to fire at Twin Rivers
May 23, 2012 | 2118 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Firefighters and rescue personnel from Madawaska and Grand Isle work at the scene of the Twin Rivers Paper Co. fire at approximately 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23. - SJVT video / Tory Bonenfant
Firefighters and rescue personnel from Madawaska and Grand Isle work at the scene of the Twin Rivers Paper Co. fire at approximately 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 23. - SJVT video / Tory Bonenfant
Firefighters work through the evening of Wednesday, May 23 at a fire at Twin Rivers Paper Company in Madawaska. - SJVT photo / Tory Bonenfant
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ONLINE FIRST, IN PRINT NEXT: MADAWASKA - Fire and rescue trucks from Madawaska, Grand Isle, and Edmundston, N.B. responded to a fire at Twin Rivers Paper Co. Wednesday evening, May 23 at approximately 8 p.m.

The top of Bridge Street was blocked from oncoming traffic and smoke hung in the air near the mill through the evening, as fire department personnel rerouted travelers going to or coming from the International Bridge.

As of 9:45 p.m. no injuries had been reported, according to Madawaska emergency personnel Eric Cyr, who was on the scene.

"But it's not over yet," said Cyr.

Madawaska firefighters were not yet able to confirm the origin of the fire.

While the Edmundston Fire Department returned to their base of operations at approximately 9:15 p.m., the remaining two departments remained on the scene.

The St. John Valley Times will continue to report as more information becomes available.

UPDATED: 10:15 a.m. - The fire started at a "pulper" adjacent to paper machine number three, according to Louise Merriman, the communications manager for Twin Rivers, who spoke with the St. John Valley Times on Thursday morning.

"It was very much contained," added Merriman.

The fire, which Merriman described as "not substantial", was noticed at 8 p.m., she said, and both areas around machines number three and four were evacuated, and the fire department was called.

There were no injuries, Merriman said, and there was never a concern for public safety.

Merriman said that the proper protocol was used and that all employees and responders worked effectively.

She said there was no substantial damage to any manufacturing machinery, and that the mill expected to have both machines back in operation today, Thursday.

UPDATED: 11:50 a.m. - Madawaska, deputy fire chief Peter Parent, confirmed that two engines were dispatched from the department, along with their hazardous materials truck, which contains additional self contained breathing apparatus equipment, or SCBA gear.

Along with these, Parent said that approximately 20 Madawaska firefighters were on scene.

Talking via telephone, Parent said the fire “wasn’t fast moving" but that is was difficult to get to.

Fires of this type at the mill "can be intense, but last night's wasn't," commented Parent.

Because the location of fire was near the middle of the building, direct access with departmental hose, either from a hydrant or a pump truck, was not the best option, Parent said. Instead, firefighters used the smaller house and fire suppression system in place within the mill facility, which is what is normally done, Parent said.

Parent said that the fire had made its way into some floor spaces and was smoldering. Firefighting crews had a hard time, he said, due to the fire's location.

As part of a mutual aid system, Madawaska called in the Grand Isle fire department, who sent one pumper truck and approximately 15 personnel.

The deputy chief added that employees at the mill "did the right thing," regarding their response to the fire.

Parent said that both Madawaska and Grand Isle crews were on scene until about 10 p.m.

Due to what Parent called a miscommunication, the Edmundston fire department also sent over an engine, although it was not deployed at the scene. Parent said that if his department's SCBA gear had needed to be refilled last night, they would have likley used Edmondson’s compressor, as Madawaska's is being repaired. Somehow that notification to Edmundston got relayed as a request for an actual response.

In addition to the fire departments, Patent said that the Madawaska police and ambulance departments responded. Parent also confirmed that no injuries were reported.