Investigations began today into the cause of a fire that swept through the Big River Timbers site near Grafton yesterday morning.
The fire spread throughout much of a large building on the site, forcing the evacuation of as many as fifty staff members.
All have been accounted for and are uninjured.
Fire and Rescue New South Wales had it under control by the early afternoon.
Fire and Rescue NSW Station Officer, Col Drayton, said the damage is very extensive.
“At least one third of the building is completely destroyed,” he said.
“But we have been able to save the front two-thirds of the building, which apparently will allow the company to remain operational.
“[It was] full of what you can imagine – flammable paper products, timber, also gas cylinders, oil for hydraulics and a lot of rubber from conveyer belts.”
Station Officer Drayton said it took an extraordinary effort to save as much as they did.
Today it looks like the damage bill from the fire is likely to run into millions of dollars.
Managing Director Jim Bindon said an exclusion zone has been set up around the site as investigations continue.
He said it is already clear that crucial equipment was badly damaged by the flames. “Those pieces of equipment are very expensive,” Mr Bindon said.“They obviously aren’t made in Australia, it’s very specialised gear made overseas.
“At first glance those two lathes look to be significantly damaged , so you’re certainly talking about well and truly into the millions.
“The exact amount is a little bit hard to say at this stage until we get to really view all components.
“Obviously our short-term priority is to get the other components of the factory up and going as soon as possible.
“There was some minor damage to particularly the electrical system.
“We’ll have to work hard to get those things restored pretty quickly.
“At least a couple of the other components of the factory should be up and going in a reasonably short time frame.
Some of the other areas, obviously it’s going to be a much longer-term issue.”
Source: ABC News