UPDATE: Electricity Back On In Pembroke After 10-Hour Outage Caused By Sawmill Fire

Thousands of people in Pembroke are getting their electricity back this morning, after a long and cold night following a massive fire at a sawmill that cut power to the city and surrounding area.

The fire at Lavern Heideman & Sons on Boundary Road, which is right next door to KI Pembroke, was called in just after 8 p.m.   

The flames lit up the night sky as every available city firefighter and piece of equipment were brought to the scene.

There was a shift of workers at the sawmill at the time but there were no reports of any injuries. 

Fire Chief Dan Herback says crews did what they can, battling extreme windchills but also the fact that as the fire started to bring the building down, it also brought power lines down, and that  forced his crews to step back for their own safety.

"It was really hard, I'll tell you, it was challenging because of the hydro lines that were all down in and around the area", he told Star 96.7.

"It took a long time before we were told it was safe enough to cross any of those hydro lines that were down".

And as it turns out, those power lines that were coming down were the lines that supply the city of Pembroke with its electricity along a main feeder line. Herback says the fire was just too strong.

"A big portion of the building, when it collapsed - it was part of the lumber mill hopper - when it fell and that was the first part, it looks like, where the fire had started, it took out a major transformer and some power lines.  And that's where the power outage was caused from", Herback said.

At one point most of Pembroke and parts of Laurentian Valley were without electricity. 

Hydro One brought its customers outside of Pembroke back online around 10:30 last night, but Ottawa River Power Corporation, which provides that electricity to Pembroke, had to wait until it was safe enough to enter the fire scene so its crews could get power back on across all of Pembroke.

Electricity started to come back on again at around 6:25 a.m.

Firefighters are expected to maintain a presence at the sawmill today to watch out for any potential flareups and hotspots.

The OPP say there are traffic restrictions in the area around Boundary Road East and Paul Martin Drive as crews continue to work at the scene, and those detours are expected to be in place for much of the day on Thursday. 

Be sure to listen to Star 96.7 News every half hour this morning for the latest, and breaking updates throughout the morning on air, on Star Mornings with Brian Burton & Tony Grace, as we receive them.