Zosels lose small log machine, building in fire

Oroville Fire and Ambulance responded to a fire at Zosel’s chip mill off Jennings Loop Road early Thursday morning. Debra  Donahue, Oroville Ambulance Coordinator, captured the fire as the building housing a small log machine was still on fire. The building and the unused machine were totally destroyed according to Howard Zosel. However, the chip mill itslelf remained undamaged due to the efforts of Oroville firefighters and the use of the city’s recently aquired 50-foot ladder truck, which was used to rain down water on the blaze. Debra Donahue/submitted photo

Oroville Fire and Ambulance responded to a fire at Zosel’s chip mill off Jennings Loop Road early Thursday morning. Debra Donahue, Oroville Ambulance Coordinator, captured the fire as the building housing a small log machine was still on fire. The building and the unused machine were totally destroyed according to Howard Zosel. However, the chip mill itslelf remained undamaged due to the efforts of Oroville firefighters and the use of the city’s recently aquired 50-foot ladder truck, which was used to rain down water on the blaze. Debra Donahue/submitted photo

Fire sprinklers were shut off while repairs were being made

“The fire destroyed a small log milling machine and the building it was in, but won’t affect production or the mill’s revenue stream,” said Howard Zosel, sales manager with the family-owned sawmill.

OROVILLE – A spark from an unknown source is suspected to be the cause of an early morning fire at Zosel Lumber Company’s chip mill on Jennings Loop Road last Thursday.

“The fire destroyed a small log milling machine and the building it was in, but won’t affect production or the mill’s revenue stream,” said Howard Zosel, sales manager with the family-owned sawmill.

It took less than an hour for the small log machine and its building to be destroyed. The fire department was still soaking the area using their 50-foot ladder truck. Gary DeVon/staff photo

It took less than an hour for the small log machine and its building to be destroyed. The fire department was still soaking the area using their 50-foot ladder truck. Gary DeVon/staff photo

“We don’t know for sure but John’s best guess is a spark from a grinding wheel could have been the cause,” added Zosel, referring to his brother John who was one of the first at the scene of the fire which was reported at 6:34 a.m. on Jan. 2.

Howard Zosel said that sparks can sit and smolder, not showing up for several hours. He added that this is a common occurrence at wood mills and that if the mill’s sprinkler system had been on damage would have been minimal.

“The sprinkler system was valved off because of repairs that were being done,” said Zosel. “Normally that would have stopped the fire long before it got going.”

The Oroville Fire Department responded in full force and pressed their 50-foot ladder truck into service, aiming the nozzle at the top of the ladder down upon the flames. However, the mostly wooden structure burned to the ground in less than an hour. Firefighters concentrated on keeping the fire from spreading to the main structure which holds the company’s chipper and from spreading to lumber and raw logs that are stacked up in the yard. Employees of the mill helped by using specialized machines to move piles of logs and lumber away from the flames.

An Oroville firefighter is silhouetted by the flames at the fire Thursday, Nov. 2. Debra Donahue/submitted photo.

An Oroville firefighter is silhouetted by the flames at the fire Thursday, Nov. 2. Debra Donahue/submitted photo.

Zosel said he and his brother were still working out the cost of the damage to the building and small log machine, which hadn’t been used in over a year. He said both were uninsured.

“However, we got a lot of use from the small log mill over the years and it was fully depreciated. It hadn’t been in production for about a year. It was ran mostly with salvage material,” he said.

The fire won’t affect the use of the chip mill other than a new air compressor will have to be installed, according to Zosel, who said production of wood chips at the mill had started back up in November.

The small log mill was purchased from John’s lumber in Tonasket several years ago and was added to the end of the line at the chip mill in a separate building, according to Zosel. The partner in the lumber mill wanted to emphasize that the fire also will not affect production at the company’s main mill which is located nine blocks north of the chip mill on 14th Avenue.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are the Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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