Just six weeks after their troubled mill reopened, the residents of Deanmill were dealt another cruel blow when a fire broke out at the plant in the early hours of this morning.
Mill owners Auswest Timbers are still trying to figure out what caused the blaze, which started at 2.30am and has brought the facility to an eerie standstill once again.
Deanmill resident Cheryl Bannister, who lives a couple of hundreds metres from the fire site, said she was shocked by what happened.
``I got up to go the toilet at 2.30am and I thought I’d left my porch light on because I could see a yellow glow through my window,’’ she said.
``I went outside and saw massive flames above the shed; I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.’’
Ms Bannister awoke a couple of her neighbours who work at the timber mill before alerting the fire brigade.
She said a group of Auswest employees reacted quickly to get the blaze under control before fire crews from Manjimup and Pemberton arrived on the scene.
``It was lucky I woke up when I did because if I hadn’t there might not have been anything left,’’ she added.
``I hope the damage isn’t so bad that the mill can’t continue operating anymore. Deanmill has had a rough time lately and it’s only just getting back on its feet since the mill reopened again. It’s just not fair.’’
Many of Deanmill’s residents are employed by the mill and had only returned to work in June following previous owners Gunns closing it more than a year ago due to pressures in the timber industry.
Ms Bannister praised the heroic efforts of the residents who battled the blaze.
``There were quite a few of them who went down there to fight the fire,’’ she said.
``The community here is very strong. Fortunately it looked like the fire fighters had it under control fairly soon.’’
Auswest managing director Gary Addison arrived on the scene from Perth this morning and said it was still too early to tell what had caused the fire.