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Wrangell Sawmill Burns

Wrangell firefighters battle a blaze at Mike Allen Enterprizes on Zimovia Highway. Photo by Greg Knight, Wrangell Sentinel.

Wrangell firefighters battle a blaze at Mike Allen Enterprizes on Zimovia Highway. Photo by Greg Knight, Wrangell Sentinel.

One of the last major sawmill operations in Wrangell has been destroyed by fire.

Mike Allen Enterprizes burned to the ground in Tuesday’s mid-afternoon fire at 13 Mile Zimovia Highway.

The distance as well as unreliable phone service made firefighting a challenge.

That portion of Zimovia Highway was under heavy construction and down to a single lane with pilot vehicles.

SECON was the first to respond with a tanker truck.  SECON workers helped emergency responders get to the fire by directing traffic and getting other vehicles off the road.

The Wrangell Volunteer Fire Department used three engines and three tankers to fight the fire, leaving one fire engine and crew in town, according to Fire Chief Tim Buness.

Photo by Greg Knight, Wrangell Sentinel.

Photo by Greg Knight, Wrangell Sentinel.

“We received the call at 2:08 p.m. and twelve minutes later the first engine arrived from the substation,”  he said. “Eighteen minutes after the initial call the trucks from town arrived. We had 35 volunteers and five retired firefighters on-scene.”

It took about six hours to wrap up the fire.

Wrangell was once a power in the Southeast Alaska timber industry. But as the industry declined, the larger mills closed.

Mike Allen owned the operation, a small community mill and one of the last two substantial milling operations in Wrangell.  Allen made dimensional lumber of desired wood species, filling mostly local orders.

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