Major fire at Oregon mill prompts evacuations

Major fire at Oregon mill prompts evacuations
Bystanders watch smoke rise from a mill fire in Springfield on July 17, 2014. A 1-mile evacuation order was later put in effect around the fire.

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - A fire in Springfield sent a plume of smoke up over the city Thursday, and emergency workers ordered an evacuation in a 1-mile radius around the fire as it continued to rage an hour later.

The fire started at about 4:41 p.m. at the Swanson Group Manufacturing Springfield Plywood and Veneer facility, 1651 F St. in Springfield.

As of 5:38 p.m., there was an evacuation in effect for a one-mile radius of 26th and M Street. There was no immediate explanation how that location was chosen as the epicenter for the evacuation.

The employees were still being accounted for as of 6 p.m., Sgt. Rich Charboneau with the Springfield Police Department.

He said fire suppression efforts are focused on containing the fire and accounting for the employees.

A helicopter from Weyerhaeuser was attempting to dump water on the fire, but the smoke is too thick to see it, Charboneau said.

Witnesses reporting hearing an explosion audible from South Eugene. Nearby residents said the neighborhood shook.

Fire dispatch logs show units responding to an industrial fire at 1651 F St. in Springfield.

That is the address of the Swanson Group Manufacturing Springfield Plywood and Veneer facility.

A press release said the Eugene-Springfield Fire Department is responding to a large fire at Springfield Forest Products, 1651 South F Street (near S 18th and Booth Kelly Road).

Residents of Creswell reported the smoke from the fire had reached their town 10 miles south of the fire shortly after 5:15 p.m.

This is a developing story. Watch live on TV and follow online for updates