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Dust Eyed as Cause of Explosion, Fire at Oregon Sawmill

August 5, 2019

Officials said wood dust may have fueled an explosion and a two-alarm fire Friday afternoon at the Timber Products sawmill in White City, OR, a number of local news organizations reported.

Five fire engines responded to the site. Upon arrival, firefighters discovered flames inside of a wood chip hopper, Jackson County Fire District 3 said in a Facebook post. Crews were able to contain the fire to the bin. 

“A lot of the fine dust is sanding dust from the plywood that they make in this facility,” Jackson County Fire District 3 Deputy Chief Mike Hussey told NBC News affiliate KOBI. “So, it’s a really fine component and it doesn’t take a whole lot to get it ignited.”

Timber Products produces a variety of wood products, including hardwood plywood, wood panels with decorative overlays, vaneers, composite panels, and hardwood lumber, the firm’s website said. Operated by the company’s Spectrum division, the White City facility focuses on the production of TFL (melamine), roll laminates, architectural plywood, SpectraBoard, and UV prefinished panels. 

In 2008, the Medford Mail-Tribune reported that Timber Products received a warning letter from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for combustible dust hazards. 

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