Structure fire results in $125,000 in damages and will be demolished, fire officials say


MANILA, Calif. (KIEM)-The cause of the fire that ripped through an old sawmill in Manila off SR-255 last night hasn’t been determined.

However, according to the property owner, it was most likely set by transients.

The nearly 12,000 square foot former sight of Sierra Pacific Industries, also known as the old Emmerson mill, is now owned by Jeff Meyer.

“This building was probably in the worst shape of all, I mean it’s 50 plus years old, that I’m aware of,” he said.   

Just before 6:00 o’clock Tuesday night, multiple agencies responded to the abandoned mill fully involved, the fire so intense it could be seen for miles.

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Once crews arrived, they worked together to put the fire in-check, which was daunting.

Sharp edges from twisted metal siding, debris, large amounts of water near an electric box, is what fire fighters had to contend with- ultimately containing the flames within two hours, according to Arcata’s Battalion Chief Sean Campbell.

“We have no power, no gas, so it has to be human error, and there is nobody else out here,” said Meyer.

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He says transients continue to come onto his private property.

“I’m not going to point any fingers at someone, or something but it’s pretty obvious,” he said.    

The owner of the old mill, which sat abandoned for about four years, says he was just in talks with the county.

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“They are looking at the sight to get people in and out quickly for the vaccines,” he said.  

The open space adjacent to the destroyed structure is where the drive-thru vaccination clinic was proposed.

“Hopefully, this will not affect the county coming out and being able to use this site for COVID vaccines.”  

Campbell says there were no injuries reported, the structure sustained about $125,000 in damages.

Anyone with information connected to the cause of the fire is asked to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251. those who would like fire information related to the actual incident can call the Arcata Fire District at (707) 822-2428.