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Sawmill damaged in blaze

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By Abbey Morton
Annan and Eskdale
Sawmill damaged in blaze

EMERGENCY services rushed to a ‘serious and large’ fire at a sawmill near Rigg on Tuesday night.

A total of 12 fire engines, as well as officers from Police Scotland, attended at the Hunter Wilson Ltd premises shortly before 11 pm.

Water was pumped from a nearby river, as firefighters worked to extinguish the flames and limit the spread to the large amount of flammable material on site.

Jennifer Bell, manager at the site, yesterday explained that the office has not been damaged and they are in the process of securing generators in order to get some aspects back

up and running.

She said: “We still don’t know the cause of the fire, but the police have said there are no suspicious circumstances.

“It could have been a lot worse – there was sawdust right next to the fire but it didn’t catch fire, it must have just been the way the wind was blowing.

“There’s nothing left of the whole workshop, and there is smoke and roof damage to the mill.

“We are able to be semi-operational, we have yard work to do so we have some people in doing that but the rest have been told to take the rest of the week off and will be paid for it.”

The site employs 16 people, with around half of them working in the yard this week.

Jennifer has worked at the sawmill for around 15 years and said it is sad to see the extent of damage.

One of the crews called out to the industrial fire was from Longtown.

A spokesman for the team said: “We were initially mobilised with the Gretna appliance, but it was evident that this was a serious and large fire involving timber in a large industrial shed.

“Longtown secured a water supply from a nearby river and were pumping until about 2.30 am, by which time the bulk of the fire had been suppressed.

“At the height of the fire, there were appliances from all over south Scotland and the aerial ladder platform and pump from Carlisle East Community Fire Station.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service crews remained in attendance long after the departure of Longtown, with the watch getting back to their station at around 3 am.

Police sergeant Scott McDowall, at Annan, said earlier this week: “We attended to assist.

“As it stands, any cause re the fire is unknown.

“Fire investigation will take place when it is safe to do so.”

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