Million-dollar planer lost in timbermill fire

BLANTON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2013
tdn plabner stand
CAMERON BURNELL
Fire damage at the Taranakipine Planing Mill

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Machinery valued at up to $1 million was destroyed in a fire at Taranakipine on Tuesday night.

Firefighters spent more than five hours putting out the blaze and dampening down hotspots at the mill on Hudson Rd in Bell Block.

Taranakipine chief executive Tom Boon said about 30 nightshift workers were taking a smoko break about 10.30pm when they heard a bang and saw the corner of the planing mill go up in flames.

"That fire was very hot and destroyed one of the machines," Mr Boon said.

The planing machines are custom built and come from Europe, he said.

"They're worth between $500,000 and $1,000,000, it's a monetary loss but we have insurance. We are more concerned about our workers and customers than the machine."

Assistant fire area commander John Nicholls said seven fire crews and two specialist crews were called to the fire.

"We had it under control quickly, but crews were there till about 3am dampening hotspots," he said.

Mr Nicholls said the blaze was not suspicious, but fire safety officers were still investigating the exact cause.

Mr Boon said the planer mill was one of eight operations Taranakipine undertook.

"There are three machines in that building and the other two only have minor electrical damage," he said.

"As of right now the other operations are continuing and we are looking at getting the other planers up and running as soon as we can. It could take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks."

Offers of support have come from a number of businesses including Clelands Timber, which is only a few kilometres away.

"They were the first call I received this morning. They are only 2km down the road which will make it a lot cheaper logistically."

The nightshift staff were set to be working there last night "and our day staff will be there [tonight], so there has been no impact on employment for anyone."

Mr Boon said the only real effect of the fire would be delays to customer deliveries around New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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