Fire burns at Kamas lumber yard

By Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Firefighters blame high winds and sparks from a piece of equipment for a fire that destroyed a building at a Kamas lumber yard Friday evening.
"[The fire] completely engulfed the building," said Oakley resident DelRay Hatch, a volunteer firefighter with the South Summit Fire District.

Hatch estimates that about 20 firefighters responded to the scene around 6 p.m. to battle the blaze. The fire occurred at the Leavitt Lumber Company at 395 South 300 East.

Some scraps at the sawmill are burned on the site and Hatch said that's where the fire likely originated.

"It blew some sparks out of that old burner that they have there over into one of their other sheds that they use to make survey stakes," Hatch said. "They had shut down for the day."

He adds that mill workers because of the high winds had likely just checked the equipment for fire danger.

A fire Friday evening damaged a building at Leavitt Lumber Company in Kamas.

"[The fire] showed a lot of flames at first and then when the (metal) roof caved in, it kind of funneled it down," Hatch said.

Though firefighters were on scene nearly three hours, Francis resident Janet Atkinson, assistant fire chief for South Summit, said the crew quickly controlled the fire.

"High winds caused it," she said.

Atkinson couldn't estimate this week how much damage the fire caused.

The fire destroyed a building, which contained equipment and wood products and "was quite hot," she said.

"The big thing on them is trying to keep them from spreading," Hatch said. "Them sawmills are nothing but shavings and dust."

A crowd gathered Friday to witness the spectacle, he said.

"There were quite a few people, there was a lot of smoke coming off of it," Hatch said. "A bunch of scrap metal is about all that's left."

There have been several fires at sawmills in South Summit during his 23 years fighting fires in the area, Hatch said.

"Most of them started from them old burners it'd be nice if they'd outlaw them things," Hatch said.

He adds that there are four sawmills in South Summit and most of the scrap at Leavitt Lumber Company is chipped and sold.

The lumber companies often bid on timber the U.S. Forest Service sells. The trees are harvested from the forest and transported to mills where lumber is produced and sold to mostly wholesalers, Hatch said.

Kamas resident Kent Leavitt, a South Summit Fire battalion chief owns the building that was burned in the fires but was not available for comment before press time.