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Fire destroys Fritch mill between Maltby and Clearview

hosing down

Firefighters hose down hot spots at an early morning blaze that destroyed the saw shop at Fritch's Mill near Clearview.
Photo by Andrew Walgamott/Woodinville Weekly.

fire destroys mill by Andrew Walgamott
A fire destroyed the saw shop at the Fritch Mill between Maltby and Clearview last Thursday morning.
   According to fire officials, the blaze was possibly ignited by a spark falling into a pile of sawdust from a machinery malfunction the afternoon before. Smoldering overnight, it became a raging fire with flames 100 feet high, causing local electrical transformers to blow and warning early risers something was amiss in the neighborhood.
   Fire engines from five agencies responded by 6 a.m. to the blaze at 18605 Waverly Drive SE.
   "It was a good operation," said District 7 Fire Chief Rick Eastman. Crews from Woodinville, Bothell, Snohomish, Monroe, and District 7 aided and were able to control the fire within an hour. Eastman said there were no injuries.
   Eastman noted that a similar fire destroyed a shingle mill near Arlington just last week. Meanwhile, his crew was busy "overhauling" the wrecked saw shop, spraying down the hot spots, taking the twisted metal roof off, and getting down to the bottom of the fire.
   The loss was estimated at $3 million, and the mill was uninsured.
   Fritch's Mill employs 20 people and has been in business since 1950. Its main focus has been exporting Douglas fir beams to Japan.
   Owner Bruce Fritch noted that his business "had been at an all-time peak in the industry" when the fire struck.
   "It's been a big part of my life," Fritch said. "I bought the mill 20 years ago, and have been rebuilding and remodeling it ever since. It's a hell of a mess now, though."
   Fritch said he would be deciding if rebuilding is a viable option.