Four people were hospitalized late Wednesday after a small fire broke out at Weyerhaeuser’s medium-density fiberboard plant in Columbia Falls.
Firefighters from Columbia Falls and the surrounding communities responded to the scene shortly after 8 p.m. and quickly contained the fire. Four employees were transported to the hospital to be evaluated and treated for smoke inhalation but have all since been released.
Local residents reported hearing an explosion, but according to Montana Region Resource Manager Tom Ray, the noise people heard were actually vents automatically opening to prevent an explosion.
“It is very loud when that happens,” Ray said.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation, Ray said.
Wednesday’s fire was at least the fourth incident at the Columbia Falls medium-density fiberboard plant in the last six years. In 2014, an explosion shut the plant down for nearly a month. Part of the facility also caught fire in two separate incidents in 2015 and 2016. No one was injured in either the explosion or the fires.