CRF&R: Cascades Tissue blower unit failed, ignited dust fire

by: SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - The paper mill in south St. Helens that is operated by Cascades Tissue Group. A small fire at one of the tissue machines broke out Thursday night, June 19, but it was extinguished before it caused much damage.An industrial fan failed at the St. Helens paper mill operated by Cascades Tissue Group on Thursday, June 19, causing a small fire, Columbia River Fire & Rescue reported.

Fire Chief Jay Tappan said damage from the fire was minimal and crews were able to quickly extinguish it.

The fire on the rooftop of the third machine at the mill started after “a blower fan shaft and bearing failed under load and ignited accumulated pulp dust,” according to the CRF&R report.

“It didn’t turn into a big fire at all,” Tappan said. “It was just kind of a smoldering, hot situation.”

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

Tappan said damage was largely contained to the failed blower itself.

“It didn’t extend into the roof structure at all,” Tappan said of the fire.

A CRF&R incident log indicates the fire was reported at 9:46 p.m. Thursday.

The small fire was not the only industrial accident reported in south Columbia County last week.

Fertilizer manufacturer Dyno Nobel reported its third minor ammonia leak in as many months Tuesday, June 17. As with the accidental ammonia releases in April and May, Tappan said the amount of ammonia that leaked was less than 100 lbs, the quantity that federal regulators define as requiring a mandatory report.

“They happen frequently,” Tappan said of the ammonia leaks. “It’s almost part of their process.”

The release did not result in any injuries, according to CRF&R.

The Dyno Nobel plant is located in Deer Island, on the west side of Highway 30.

Cascades operates out of the paper mill in south St. Helens, which used to be run by paper giant Boise Inc., under a lease.

Boise ended its St. Helens operations in 2012, laying off more than 100 workers. It was purchased by rival Packaging Corp. of America last fall, although Cascades continues to lease space and equipment at the mill.

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