Crossett Plywood Mill Fire Cause Still Not Known

CROSSETT, Ark. (KTVE) - Investigators continue sifting through the ashes of the old Georgia Pacific plywood mill in search of the cause of Saturday's massive fire.

Not much is left after flames roared through the mill, sending thick black smoke into the air that could be seen for miles.

"It's something that you see on TV," said Michael Willhite, Fire Marshal. "It was big."

Firefighters say with limited water early on, it was an uphill battle trying to control the fire and kept it from spreading.

They say they had to tackle the flames the best way they could.

"We just had to find a place that we could catch the fire, and we kind of accepted the loss of what we were going to lose to defend the properties that actually still had jobs," explained Deron Boykin, Crossett Fire Department.

Firefighters say when they got to the scene, there were flames in one of the machine rooms, and smoke filled the air.

They say winds were blowing more than 20 mph, causing debris to blow back over the city.

They evacuated residents and businesses that were close to the area.

"That mill was full of a lot of rich oil-soaked pine and a lot of sawdust," said Boykin.

Although it's not often, the Crossett Fire Department says it's times like this that their constant training kicks in, allowing procedures to run smoothly.

"Everything went wonderful, everyone responded as they should, and no one was injured, which is our main most important thing," said Willhite.

And after 20 hours of fighting the blaze, despite the loss of a building, firefighters say they are most thankful that everyone involved is alive and safe.

Firefighters say the mill shut down eight years ago.

They say there were security and contractors still working in the area, but a bulk of the mill was abandoned.

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