Springfield wood products plant erupts in flames

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - A fire ripped through a wood products plant Thursday, sending a plume of smoke up over the southern Willamette Valley.

There were no reports of injuries.

Fire officials said the fire could smolder for days.

Witnesses reported hearing an explosion audible from as far away as South Eugene.

Residents closer to the South F Street mill said the explosions shook the neighborhood.

The fire started at about 4:41 p.m. at the Swanson Group Manufacturing Springfield Plywood and Veneer facility, 1651 South F St. in Springfield.

As of 5:38 p.m., there was an evacuation in effect for a 1-mile radius of 26th and M Street. The location was based on presets in an emergency management computer system, officials later explained. The lack of a "south" designation on the M Street caused confusion for many people as residents watched in horror and hoped no one was hurt.

The employees were still being accounted for as of 6 p.m., Sgt. Rich Charboneau with the Springfield Police Department.

He said fire suppression efforts were focused on containing the fire and accounting for the employees.

A helicopter from Weyerhaeuser was attempting to dump water on the fire, but the smoke is too thick to see it, Charboneau said.

The evacuation order was rescinded at 6:45 p.m. with the exception of the area south of the railroad tracks and west of South 28th.

Eugene-Springfield Fire Department said the fire was not under control but was contained as of 7:10 p.m.

As of 7:45 p.m., fire officials said all of the employees had been accounted for. There were no reports of serious physical injury.

The fire could continue to smolder for days, fire officials said.

Residents of Creswell reported the smoke from the fire had reached their town 10 miles south of the fire shortly after 5:15 p.m. The smoke later reached Cottage Grove.

This is a developing story. Watch live on TV and follow online for updates

Video of the fire shot by Ray Morton