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Libby still coming to grips with devastating mill fire - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Libby still coming to grips with devastating mill fire

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LIBBY - The Libby community is still reeling after a fire destroyed one of its biggest economic providers.

Reporter Nicole Miller has an update on the fire investigation and the response from residents and city officials about just how devastating this has been to their community.

"It was the last part of the original lumber manufacturing part of the mill.  At one time, there was a plywood plant…a sawmill. Both of those burned at different times in the past and so this was really the last standing tie to the timber industry at this site,” said Libby Mayor Brent Teske.

The lumber mill was built in the 1940's as a time that some describe as Libby's good old days when lumber was a big industry in the area. But over time the industry died off.

When the SK Fingerjoint plant started production at the site on May 27, 2014 the community was hopeful.

"We had a lot of hopes and dreams about this company because it really showed a lot of signs of progress and it was going to really kick off,” said Libby resident Bill Cunnane.

The company was expected to start shipping product by a new rail spur coming to Libby at the end of the month. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was canceled due to the fire and it’s not known if the plant will be rebuilt.

"It's too early to tell exactly what the impacts are going to be and how long it is going to take him to rebuild if he decides to rebuild,” Mayor Teske said. “He's got quite a bit of stock out here that he will still want to sell and get rid of but when it's gone it's gone and the business is gone.

“So, we'll just have to see what the owner's plan is whether he rebuilds or not, I sure hope he does because it was a viable economic industry for us and our last foothold into the timber industry,” Mayor Teske added.

An investigation is still underway by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office to determine the cause of the fire.

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