Fire chief reacts to Plum Creek explosion


Fire chief reacts to Plum Creek explosion

COLUMBIA FALLS, Mont. - Columbia Falls Fire Chief Rick Hagen was one of the first emergency responders on scene at the Plum Creek Plant Tuesday when an explosion and fire broke out.

Hagen says at first the scene was chaotic, and there were conflicting reports of injuries.

"Initially they were trying to do accountability out there and they didn't know yet whether they had any injuries," said Hagen. "So apparently that got blown out of proportion for a while, but they established that they had accountability of everybody. Once that occurred then we went into firefighting mode."

Everyone was accounted for at the plant. Hagen says the fire was quite large and firefighters were on the scene until around 9:45 p.m.

"It was a large explosion.  It covered a large area of the plant.  We ended up breaking the three divisions to cover all the areas that had fire in them," said Hagen. "So as far as the knockdown, boy you know we were fighting fire right up to probably a couple hours before we left."

We spoke to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Wednesday.  Officials told us they have representatives on the way to the scene and should have more information on Monday.

We placed calls to Plum Creek's corporate offices; no one has returned our calls.

The cause of the accident is not yet known.

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