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Columbia Falls Fiberboard Plant Delays Restart Of Explosion-Damaged Production Line

Plum Creek Timber's Columbia Falls fiberboard plant
Katrin Frye
Plum Creek Timber's Columbia Falls fiberboard plant

A Columbia Falls fiberboard production line will open a bit later than expected after a small explosion and fire shut it down late last week.

A bearing failure is blamed for last Thursday's incident at the Plum Creek Timber Company plant.

Last Friday company vice president Tom Ray said he hoped the number one production line could reopen by early this week, but it looks like that won't happen. Canisters containing fire suppression chemicals are being recharged.  

"We're just still waiting for the fire suppression bottles - still in the process of getting those back and installed," says Ray. "Mechanically everything looks good. We are going to make some fire suppression changes and additions. So I think it'll be the first part of next week when we start that line one."

Not only will the fire suppression equipment be extended in that part of the plant, but Ray says that production line will be retrofitted with a new ball-bearing design.

No one was injured in last week's explosion. No one was laid off.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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