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Cleanup begins at Tolko’s High Prairie OSB mill following fire


May 30, 2022
By CFI staff

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Tolko High Prairie division. Photo: Annex Business Media.

Operations teams are beginning cleanup today in unrestricted areas of Tolko Industries’ High Prairie OSB mill following a fire that evacuated the Alberta mill and injured one employee on May 20.

An initial investigation following the fire found that it started in the press area when a small pipe carrying thermal oil broke, and the thermal oil ignited. Tolko said the mill’s fire suppression system contained the fire and prevented it from migrating to other areas.

In an update Friday, Tolko said Alberta Occupational Health and Safety approved a phased approach to accessing the mill site, which began on Thursday with tradespeople restoring power to unrestricted areas.

“It’s a difficult situation for Tolko’s employees and the community,” Fred Chinn, Tolko’s vice-president, strand based business, said in the update. “Work has started on how we can minimize the impact of lost time on people and their families. We want to assure everyone that we will soon put a recovery plan in place that will allow us to get High Prairie back up and operational.”

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The company is evaluating damage and repair options and expects it will take several weeks to determine the detailed repair plans and the timing for a restart. Until then the mill is shipping out existing products and logs are being sent to Tolko’s Athabasca division near Slave Lake, Alta.