All Safe after MT Wood Plant Blast

Friday, June 13, 2014 @ 05:06 PM gHale

All workers were safe after explosions and a fire engulfed a Montana wood-products plant owned by Plum Creek Timber Co. Tuesday.

Fire crews were battling flames at the facility in Columbia Falls several hours after the blaze broke out between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., said Cindy Mullaney, deputy director of the Flathead County Office of Emergency Services. Columbia Falls is in the northwest part of Montana.

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Sixty workers safely evacuated from the plant, she said. The facility, owned by the Seattle-based timber company, produces medium-density fiberboard used for shelving, cabinetry and paneling, according to the company’s website.

Officials were trying to determine the cause of the explosions and fire and how extensively the complex suffered damage, Mullaney said.

Plum Creek officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The plant uses such chemical agents as resins and formaldehyde at high heat to form its engineered wood products, according to an air-pollution permit issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The company is one of the largest private landowners in the nation, managing roughly 6.8 million acres (2.75 million hectares) of forested lands in 19 states, its website said.

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