Abitibi paper mill fire re-ignites

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Lane Luckie - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – Firefighters were forced to return to the Abitibi-Consolidated paper mill in Lufkin after a Wednesday blaze re-ignited.

Around 4:30 a.m. Thursday, a fire watch crew alerted the Lufkin Fire Department that a fire had re-kindled at the closed mill. The smell of smoke was apparent in the Highway 103 east area around that time.

When crews arrived, flames were once again spotted in the same laboratory office where the earlier fire began. Huntington volunteer fire fighters said they joined Lufkin crews on the scene just before 5 a.m.

A 3-thousand-gallon tanker unit had to be refilled at a nearby hydrant more than once; necessary to supply crews with enough water to extinguish the flames.

Water hoses were snaked around debris and up a flight of stairs to a second-story area, where the Lufkin fire fighters were concentrating their efforts. Two Huntington responders stayed below to man the tanker truck.

Crews remain on the scene to monitor the situation.

Assistant Fire Marshal Steve McCool said the fire started on an area on the second floor which was protected by metal flashing. Crews extinguished the fire around 7 a.m.

The blaze was first reported around 11:37 a.m., Wednesday. About 65 first responders from Lufkin, Nacogdoches, and several other Angelina County fire departments worked the scene. Two hours later, the blaze was out.

Lufkin Fire Marshal LeeFran Skelton said the fire was started by a demolition crew using a cutting device. The crew of contractors made it out unharmed.

The Abitibi-Consolidated mill closed in 2003. In the years since, an investment group had considered buying the property before that proposal collapsed. The 900-acre property was put up for auction in July.

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