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Fire destroys closed RY Timber mill in Townsend Thursday night

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Posted at 5:56 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 19:56:52-04

TOWNSEND — Late Thursday night RY Timber’s former Townsend Mill caught fire with much of the building and machinery inside being destroyed.

A bit before midnight, multiple fire departments from throughout the tri-county area responded to RY Timber in Townsend to help suppress the fire. Responding departments included: Broadwater Fire Department from all stations, Montana City Fire, East Valley Fire, Eastgate Fire, Tri-Lakes Fire, West Valley Fire and York Fire.

Fire crews were able to knock down the fire by around 4:30 a.m. Crew members remained on scene until nearly noon to monitor the site.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. No one was hurt in the fire.

“It's not a mice with matches situation. But obviously, you know, this building hasn't been in operation for three years as a sawmill. So, when it combusts in the middle of the night, it always going to raise suspicion. And if it didn't, I wouldn't be doing my job,” says Broadwater County Sheriff Wynn Meehan.

Dan Richards, General Manager at RY Timber says that this fire, unfortunately, comes days before the auction they were slated to have to sell off items from their mill and that the mill building is a complete loss. Fortunately, they do have insurance to hopefully cover some of the damage from the fire.

RY Timber closed the mill in Townsend in 2020, causing 70 employees to be laid off. The office remained open and a minimal staff was kept on to clean up and maintain the property.

While there is currently no known cause of the RY Timber fire, Sheriff Wynn Meehan says it’s important for people to be fire aware

“People just need to be more cautious if they're smoking or using flammable liquids. They need to be cautious about what they're doing and just be cognizant of what's around them because it could be a very small thing that sets something, and away it goes,” says Meehan.