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Libby still coming to grips with devastating mill fire - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Libby still coming to grips with devastating mill fire

Posted: 11/11/2017 16:14:00 -07:00 Updated:

LIBBY - The Libby community is still reeling after a fire destroyed one of its biggest economic providers.

"It was the last part of the original lumber manufacturing part of the mill. At one time, there was a plywood plant, a sawmill," Libby Mayor Brent Teske said. "Both of those burned at different times in the past and so this was really the last standing tie to the timber industry at this site."

The lumber mill was built in the 1940s, a time that some describe as Libby's good old days when lumber was a big industry in the area. But overtime the industry died off.

When the SK Fingerjoint plant started production at the site on May 27, 2014, the community was hopeful.

"We had a lot of hopes and dreams about this company because it really showed a lot of signs of progress and it was going to really kick off,” Libby resident Bill Cunnane said.

The company was expected to start shipping products by a new rail spur coming to Libby at the end of the month. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was canceled due to the fire and it’s not known if the plant will be rebuilt.

"It's too early to tell exactly what the impacts are going to be and how long it is going to take him to rebuild if he decides to rebuild,” Mayor Teske said. “He's got quite a bit of stock out here that he will still want to sell and get rid of but when it's gone it's gone and the business is gone."

Mayor Teske added they have to wait and see what the owner plans to do. The community hopes he will rebuild as the mill was a final foothold in the timber industry.

An investigation is still underway by the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office to determine the cause of the fire.

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