Friction in machinery was the likely cause of a large sawdust fire Sunday night in a silo at Northwest Hardwoods, 120 Industrial Way, Longview, according to the Longview Fire Department.

The fire ulimately involved 22 firefighters from Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue, Longview Fire Department and Columbia River Fire & Rescue in Oregon, the report said.

“This was a difficult fire to fight,” said Longview Battalion Chief Kevin Taylor. “The strong breeze from the Columbia River in this area really kept the fire going.”

The alarm was first sounded at 9:24 p.m., and the first Longview engine arrived within five minutes. Heavy flames were visible at the top of a 60-foot-tall silo, and the fire had spread through conveyors to a filter system in a large “bag house” used for storing and conveying sawdust, according to the report from Longview Fire. The plant is owned by American Industrial Partners, which bought it from Weyerhaeuser Co. in 2011.

The plant is partially protected by sprinkler systems, but “unfortunately, the part that was on fire... without sprinklers,” Taylor said.

Fire crews deployed multiple hose lines and large water streams from a ladder truck, and at one point, they cut open conveyor housings with saws to get at the flames, the report said.

Firefighters were on scene for approximately three hours. Taylor said here were no injuries to firefighters or to plant employees.

Taylor said the cause was likely due to friction from operating machinery. No damage estimates were available Monday.

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