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Fri, Sep 30, 2022 02:12
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Multiple agencies respond to WestRock paper mill fire in West Point

WEST POINT, Va. (From news reports) -- Over 30 firefighters from several localities put out a fire at the WestRock paper mill early Tuesday morning.

The West Point Volunteer Fire Department was first dispatched to a call around 3 a.m. for a fire in the chip plant.

According to West Point Fire Chief Spencer Cheatham, the crew responded and called for more equipment and personnel from both West Point and the New Kent County Fire Department.

Upon inspection, early responders found small fires in a 250-foot-long tunnel that houses the conveyor system. The tunnel, which stands 10 stories high, was burning sawdust and chips and was filled with smoke, Cheatham said.

Although more units arrived and attacked the fire from two locations, the fire intensified and burned the conveyor belt until it broke. The belt was pulled down a floor below to a machinery room.

"The belt continued to burn in that room which intensified the situation and necessitated an aggressive attack in that room," Cheatham said.

When a second alarm sounded, more units responded from New Kent, as well as Lower King & Queen Volunteer Fire Department, the Walkerton Community Fire Association and King William Fire & EMS.

The West Point Police Department controlled traffic as over 30 firefighters fought the blaze until getting it under control around 6:30 am.

All responders left the mill at 9:45 am after it was deemed safe. A damage estimate wasn't available.

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