Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement
An overnight fire consumed a storage building behind the main office for Balsam Millwork, a local moulding and lumber manufacturer. The call came in at about 11:20 p.m., and the New Richmond Fire Department fought the blaze through the night. (Photos by Jordan WillI)

UPDATE: Balsam Millwork recovering from warehouse fire

Email News Alerts

Balsam Millwork President/Owner Greg Nelson and his employees are picking up the pieces after a fire destroyed the company’s storage warehouse on Wednesday, July 9, at its 524 St. Croix Ave. facility in the New Richmond Industrial Park.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“I was shocked when I heard what was happening,” Nelson said. “I didn’t know what to expect when I got out here to see the warehouse. But I could see the smoke in the darkness probably three to five miles away as I was driving in.”

At about 11:20 p.m. on July 9, New Richmond Fire & Rescue responded to a warehouse fire in the New Richmond Industrial Park at 524 St. Croix Ave.  

“By the time we got there, the warehouse had been burning for quite a while before someone discovered it and called it in,” said New Richmond Fire Chief Jim Vander Wyst. “Within minutes of us arriving on scene, the roof collapsed. However, no lives were lost and no one was hurt aside from one firefighter taken to the hospital for dehydration.”

The firefighter was treated by medics on the scene and was later taken to Westfields Hospital, where he was treated for dehydration for about an hour. Vander Wyst said the firefighter got the fluids he needed and has recovered.

The property, which is owned by PJP Properties LLC out of Hudson, is the location of Balsam Millwork. According to Balsam Millwork’s website, it is a local moulding and lumber manufacturer that builds cabinets, furniture, interior and exterior doors, log mantles, custom and stock mouldings, paneling, stair parts, trusses, wide plank wood flooring and many other custom wood products.

“The building was mostly used to house stored wood and any of the projects the company might have been working on or starting along with a lot of cut wood,” Vander Wyst said. “The building was pretty much lost when we got there, so our first priority was to separate that building from the two others which were close by and prevent the fire from spreading to either of those. We used a hose stream to cool down the sides closest to the other buildings from growing and try to cool them down as quick as possible. Everything went well, and I think everyone did a pretty good job.”

According to Vander Wyst, the blaze took about an hour to get under control. There was a flare up at the site about 45 minutes after the engines returned to the station, forcing the firefighters to return to the site to extinguish the flames.

“Because the fire started during the nighttime hours and it was in a non-residential area, the fire got ahead of itself before anyone could call in to report it,” Vander Wyst said. “When we got there there was nothing to salvage, so there was no need to risk the lives of the firefighters, which is why we took up a defensive stance around the building until the fire was extinguished. The fire restarting itself after we left is normal for these kinds of fires, since there is no way to get to every bit of the fire in the building.”

Vander Wyst said there is no way to tell what might have caused the fire, since the building was almost completely gone by the time the firefighters arrived on scene.

“With all the damage the fire caused to the building, there is no real way of telling what started it,” Vander Wyst said. “It could have been anything, from a machine malfunctioning or any number of other things.”

During the New Richmond City Council’s July 14 meeting, Vander Wyst told local officials that investigators had ruled out foul play.

In addition to New Richmond Fire & Rescue, the Somerset and Roberts/Warren fire departments were also called to the scene for mutual aid. Vander Wyst said each department sent one engine to the scene, and he put them both to work right away to help fight and contain the blaze.

Moving forward

With the fire claiming over a quarter of a million dollars worth of finished projects and all the other wood products stored in the warehouse, according to Nelson’s approximations, the plan for Nelson and his employees is to start by redoing all the projects that were lost in the fire as quickly as possible. In addition to the lost projects, Nelson said that replacing the warehouse would cost around $150,000. Once those projects are completed, and the warehouse is replaced, the company can attempt to figure out what its next steps are.

“We store our finished product in this building and it is unfortunate since we had a lot of jobs wrapped up and ready to ship today (July 10) for people who have been waiting months to get their products,” Nelson said. “So, right now we are in rebuild mode, which means current projects are going to get pushed off and things that got burned up are going to get first priority. Then we will try to replace the building pretty quickly since we need the space.”

In total, Nelson said he lost about 10 finished projects in the fire, which included everything from interior doors to floors for homes. Along with redoing all the work that was lost in the fire, Nelson must also clean up the debris of the destroyed building and work on getting his business back to where it was before the fire.

“Right now, I need to let the situation soak in before I do anything, but we will need to get a game plan put together as soon as possible,” Nelson said. “We were getting ready to expand, maybe put up a fence and add a dry kiln outside here as well as a few more expansion things, but this kind of throws a loop into that. We were also in the process of hiring a few more people as well, but we are going to have to put that on hold for now since we will be a little constricted in here. This will slow down our production a little bit as well since we need to be able to warehouse things when they are produced.”

When Nelson arrived on the scene at 11:30 p.m. that Wednesday night, he could tell his warehouse was beyond saving, so his focus quickly shifted to the buildings next to the burning warehouse.

“When I got here, I was less concerned with the warehouse being on fire as I was with either of the buildings next to it catching on fire since they are so close to each other,” Nelson said. “The fire department did a great job in saving those other buildings. I really thought our main building was going to catch fire just from the heat.”

Despite the setback of losing all their finished projects, Nelson feels like the company will be able to keep up with all of its other projects after the initial delay needed to replace the products that were ruined in the fire.

“Our production will be able to keep up with what we used to do, but now we don’t have a place to put the finished product,” Nelson said.“Our production hasn’t changed since all the equipment we use is still here and all our employees showed up for work today. It is really just a warehouse nightmare more than anything else. We will have a few weeks of rework for the things that lost, which was about two to three weeks worth of projects.”

--------

At about 11:20 p.m. on Wednesday, July 9, New Richmond Fire & Rescue responded to a warehouse fire in the New Richmond Industrial Park at 524 St. Croix Ave.  

“By the time we got there, the warehouse had been burning for quite a while before someone discovered it and called it in,” said New Richmond Fire Chief Jim Vander Wyst. “Within minutes of us arriving on scene, the roof collapsed. However, no lives were lost and no one was hurt aside from one firefighter taken to the hospital for dehydration.”

The firefighter was treated by medics on the scene and was later taken to Westfields Hospital, where he was treated for dehydration for about an hour. Vander Wyst said the firefighter got the fluids he needed and has recovered.

The property, which is owned by PJP Properties LLC out of Hudson, is the location of Balsam Millwork. According to Balsam Millwork’s website, it is a local moulding and lumber manufacturer that builds cabinets, furniture, interior and exterior doors, log mantles, custom and stock mouldings, paneling, stair parts, trusses, wide plank wood flooring and many other custom wood products.

“The building was mostly used to house stored wood and any of the projects the company might have been working on or starting along with a lot of cut wood,” Vander Wyst said. “The building was pretty much lost when we got there, so our first priority was to separate that building from the two others which were close by and prevent the fire from spreading to either of those. We used a hose stream to cool down the sides closest to the other buildings from growing and try to cool them down as quick as possible. Everything went well, and I think everyone did a pretty good job.”

According to Vander Wyst, the blaze took about an hour to get under control. There was a flare up at the site about 45 minutes after the engines returned to the station, forcing the firefighters to return to the site to extinguish the flames.

“Because the fire started during the nighttime hours and it was in a non-residential area, the fire got ahead of itself before anyone could call in to report it,” Vander Wyst said. “When we got there there was nothing to salvage, so there was no need to risk the lives of the firefighters, which is why we took up a defensive stance around the building until the fire was extinguished. The fire restarting itself after we left is normal for these kinds of fires, since there is no way to get to every bit of the fire in the building.”

Vander Wyst said there is no way to tell what might have caused the fire, since the building was almost completely gone by the time the firefighters arrived on scene.

“With all the damage the fire caused to the building, there is no real way of telling what started it,” Vander Wyst said. “It could have been anything, from a machine malfunctioning or any number of other things.”

In addition to New Richmond Fire & Rescue, the Somerset and Roberts Fire Departments were also called to the scene for mutual-aid. Vander Wyst said each department sent one engine out to the scene, and he put them both to work right away to help fight and contain the blaze.

--------

The New Richmond Fire Department was called to 524 St. Croix Ave. at about 11:20 p.m. on Wednesday, July 9, to fight a blaze, according to a 911 Call Report.

According to the report, the fire department fought the fire through the night, but were not able to save the building.

The property, which is owned by PJP Properties LLC out of Hudson, is the location of Balsam Millwork. According to Balsam Millwork’s website, they are a local moulding and lumber manufacturer that manufacture cabinets, furniture, interior and exterior doors, log mantles, custom and stock mouldings, paneling, stair parts, trusses, wide plank wood flooring, and many other custom wood products.

According to the dispatch log, both the Somerset and Roberts fire departments were called to the scene for mutual-aid.

Additional information will be added to this story as it becomes available. 

Advertisement
Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
(751) 243-7767 x244
Advertisement
Advertisement
randomness