Smoke billows past damaged utility lines following a fire at a lumber yard in Yarrow Thursday. The blaze disrupted phone

Smoke billows past damaged utility lines following a fire at a lumber yard in Yarrow Thursday. The blaze disrupted phone

Yarrow mill fire caused cable and online disruptions

Cable and Internet service were disrupted in Chilliwack Thursday, after a fire at a Yarrow mill damaged overhead lines.

Cable and Internet services were disrupted in Chilliwack Thursday after a fire at a Yarrow lumber yard damaged overhead lines.

The fire broke out at about 3 p.m. but fire crews managed to contain it to a Quonset hut used to store lumber at the site.

RCMP and Chilliwack Fire officials are investigating the cause of the mill fire, which is believed to be “accidental,” at this point, said assistant fire chief Ian Josephson.

The exact cause is still unknown, and RCMP is still conducting interviews.

“But at this point we can’t point to any evidence to show it was deliberately set,” he added.

Intense heat from the flames damaged the fibre-optic lines overhead at the east end of the structure in the 4400-block of No. 3 Road, which disrupted some online services.

The fire was prevented from spreading to the other manufacturing buildings, and there were no workers on-site at the time since the business was in the process of shutting down.

Chilliwack resident Tim Croitor was at work Thursday afternoon at the Masonite door plant, across the road. He and his fellow workers watched the late-afternoon sky fill with black smoke at the plant.

“I couldn’t see the building or any people, just the smoke and the fire,” he said.

They opened the door of the loading dock bay at work and had a view to where fire crews were already on-site beating back the flames.

“The word spread through our plant like wild fire that the building across the street was on fire,” Croitor said.

Some of his co-workers are volunteer firefighters.

“So they had to race to the fire hall to get their gear and then back down here to help out,” he said.

Firefighters were still working away at it Thursday night, as an excavator dragged smoldering debris that had been stacked lumber, away from the building.

Cables could be seen dangling from the utility pole closest to the fire.

Service crews from Telus, Shaw and BC Hydro were on-scene into the night awaiting their chance to restore services as soon as the fire was out.

About 3,000 Telus Internet customers and half a dozen wireless sites were impacted, said Telus spokesman Shawn Hall.

“It did not affect phone services because home phone service and wireless are run in different cables so that if something like this happens, and wireless service is knocked out, at least people can still use their phones.”

It wasn’t until Friday morning at about 1 a.m. that service was fully restored.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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