BKB Cedar fire brings out strength of community

Dianne St. Jean
BKB Cedar fire brings out strength of community
Submitted photo

The community of McBride showed a collective strength and determination to overcome after fire destroyed a local mill.
The BKB Cedar mill, a major employer in McBride, suffered devastation when a fire that began on Wednesday April 5 consumed the building and overall site.

Fire crews were kept busy as a large mulch pile on the property continued to flare up.

It was finally brought under control several days later with the help of sprinklers and pushing it out with equipment.

With news of the destruction of the BKB Cedar mill, support systems were immediately put in place by the Robson Valley Support Society, WorkBC, and the Valemount Learning Centre, who have continued meeting with employees and those affected by the fire. MLA Shirley Bond, who visited the site on the day the fire broke out, organized a meeting on Monday, April 10 as part of the provincial government’s Community Transition Response to help further the process.
At minimum, 35 employees were directly affected with job loss.

Says owner Raj Basran, “Shirley Bond and the Robson Valley Support (Society) have done a great job with the crew, to get them on to the right programs. They’ve already started talks with retraining people through the EI program, and there’s the Salvation Army, the Red Cross and Food Bank…”

The investigation is still ongoing with no official word yet as to what started the blaze, although the suspicion is that it was mechanical. And while Basran hopes to rebuild, not much else can be done until the investigation is finalized and the insurance adjuster settles the case.

So far, though, it looks like this fire has finally been licked.

“It’s been over 100 hours without any smoke coming out of the pile,” commented Fire Chief Dave Hruby on Tuesday, “so it’s looking way better than it ever has.”

The snow that fell on the morning of April 18 might have been unwelcome to most Robson Valley residents, but according to Basran and Hruby, it gave that little bit of extra relief.

BKB Cedar fire brings out strength of community
Submitted photo