Baileyville wood chip mill damaged by fire back at 50 percent

Posted March 11, 2014, at 4:40 p.m.

BAILEYVILLE, Maine — Fulghum Fibres is operating at 50 percent of plant capacity following a fire that heavily damaged its wood chip mill facility last week.

The company is using portable chipping equipment to continue supplying chips to Woodland Pulp’s huge pulp mill, Julie Cafarella, a spokeswoman for California-based Rentech Inc., parent company of Fulghum Fibres, reported Tuesday.

Demolition work on the damaged mill began last week, and Fulghum has procured more than 90 percent of the replacement equipment it needs, said Cafarella.

“We’re working closely with our customer to find a solution that meets all of their chipping requirements,” she said via email. “Maintaining an uninterrupted supply of chips to our customer is very important to us.”

Cafarella was not able to say when the plant would return to 100 percent production capacity or when the rebuilt mill facility would be operating.

The fire, which broke out on Tuesday, March 4, and was attributed to sparks from maintenance work, caused extensive damage to a three-story building dedicated to debarking logs and processing them into chips. The metal building itself, however, was left largely intact.

Baileyville Fire Chief John McPhee initially estimated the loss at close to $1 million.

It took firefighters from Baileyville and four other departments about three hours to bring the blaze under control.

Fulghum Fibres supplies the majority of chips used by the neighboring pulp mill, said Woodland Pulp spokesman Scott Beal. However, the fire and idling of the chip mill will not affect the company’s operations. The company also has other chip suppliers, he said.

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