About 30 firefighters battled a blaze that tore through the Jewell Shake and Shingle Mill Wednesday afternoon. The owner, John Rinkes, said he noticed the flames around 5:30 p.m. and called 9-1-1.
"It was my fault. I can't blame anyone else," Rinkes said today. "The firemen had a good exercise. Nobody got hurt."
Rinkes, who has owned the mill since 1964, explained he was in the process of dismantling the steel-frame mill building and had been cutting metal with a torch earlier in the day, when a spark caught some sawdust on fire. He thought the fire was out and left the building, then saw the flames when he came back an hour or so later. Then the wind came up and the fire got out of control, he said.
Rinkes estimates fire damage to tools and machinery at $5,000, but said he will still be able to produce some shakes and shingles. He does not have fire insurance.
It was Rinkes' third fire. He said there was an arson fire at the same mill May 20, 1980, that cost him $100,000 and another mill he owned at Beneke Creek burned in an arson fire in 1968.
Four rural fire departments brought a total of six water tenders to the site, which is not served by a fire hydrant. Hamlet Fire Chief Bill Boone said the fire was knocked down by around 7 p.m. He said it was a hard fire to fight, because there was a lot of sawdust build-up under the floors and inside the walls. A big portion of the building collapsed.
Fighting the fire were crews from Elsie-Vinemaple, Hamlet, Mist-Birkenfeld, Banks and Seaside fire departments. Medix Ambulance Service crews also stood by. As part of the county's mutual aid agreement, the Gearhart Fire Department moved up to cover for Seaside and Cannon Beach backed up Hamlet.