DUCHESNE — An early morning fire destroyed a family-owned sawmill Wednesday, but the owner says it won't put his company out of business.
Firefighters from Duchesne, Altamont and Myton were called to the Knotty Wood Products sawmill, 5464 N. state Route 87, about 5 a.m. By the time they arrived, the building and several pieces of heavy equipment were engulfed in flames, according to Duchesne County Fire and Emergency Management Director Mike Lefler.
Sam Fabrizio, who bought the 28-year-old company from his father in 2011, said he has no intention of shutting down the business.
"I knew I was going to rebuild before I even got up here," Fabrizio said. "Once I saw the flames and knew that it was basically gone, I already knew that we were going to rebuild and keep going. It's just what we do."
Knotty Wood Products employs 23 people and provides lumber products to coal mines, oil and gas companies and sod farms, Fabrizio said. Construction on the mill that was destroyed Wednesday began in 1999 when the company relocated from the Duchesne County community of Hanna. The mill began operating in 2004, Fabrizio said.
"It's a shock," he said, referring to the loss. "There's a lot of emotion, a lot of work that's just gone."
The owners of other sawmills have offered to help Fabrizio until he can rebuild. He said some of his employees will return to work immediately to begin the cleanup, while others will have to wait until a new mill can be built.
"I'll be wanting to put them back to work as soon as possible," he said.
Firefighters were still at the scene Wednesday afternoon, putting water on smoldering piles of sawdust and smoking lumber. Meanwhile, investigators with the Utah State Fire Office were sifting through the rubble, trying to determine what caused the fire.
Deputy State Fire Marshal Troy Mills said the fire burned so evenly throughout the sawmill and caused such extensive damage that it will be tough to pinpoint the exact spot where it began. Investigators are asking anyone who saw the fire while it was still relatively small to contact the State Fire Marshal's Office at 801-284-6350.
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