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Late-night mill fire prompts impressive regional effort from three fire departments

Volunteers with the Tarrys Fire Department, circa 2015.

A late-night fire at Kalesnikoff Lumber Thursday served to underline the importance of mutual-aid agreements between fire departments in our region, according to Tarrys Fire Chief Greg Patterson.

Patterson said they got a call at 11 p.m. from Trail fire dispatch reporting a structure fire at Kalesnikoff Lumber (just off Highway 3A between Castlegar and Nelson).

"It was a fire in the barker mill area (where they scale the bark off the logs)," Patterson said, explaining it was apparently a cutting torch that ignited nearby combustibles. "The Kalesnikoff fire brigade team initiated the initial attack on the fire, and probably saved the mill, because it (the fire) didn't get going that fast."

Fire crews - 10 members from Crescent Valley FD, seven from Ootischenia FD and nine from Tarrys FD - took over the effort and were able to quickly extinguish the blaze, he said.

"We had to use thermal imaging cameras to locate hot spots," Patterson added. "We were there until about 2 a.m."

Patterson offered his congratulations to the Kalsnikoff team for keeping the fire under control, and thanked the two other departments that pitched in.

"We can't fight these fires all by ourselves - the mutual aid is incredibly important."

No one was injured, and there are no damage estimate at this time.