Skip to content

Two people airlifted to Toronto after 'fireball' erupts at Thunder Bay Pulp and Paper mill

The Ministry of Labour is investigating the March 22 incident

THUNDER BAY — Two people were airlifted to Sunnybrook Hospital's burn unit on Friday after a fire broke out at the Thunder Bay Pulp and Paper mill at approximately 10:40 a.m. 

The fire happened in the hog fuel feed system.

Robin Roy, acting platoon chief with Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, saw a video of the incident. He described it as a fireball. 

“I was told a bearing overheated. It sounds like the machine started to shake and then all the dust went in the air and it was just the right mixture to ignite it — very similar to what would happen at a grain elevator.” 

Roy said a “huge fireball came right out the door” and the workers were “in it probably for two seconds.” 

Thunder Bay Pulp and Paper issued a statement on Friday about the incident.

"Trained mill emergency responders were on site within minutes, partnering with local fire and police to secure the area and support those who were working in the immediate vicinity," the statement said.

Four contractors were injured. TBnewswatch has learned that two individuals were airlifted to Sunnybrook to have their burns treated. 

"Our thoughts are with these individuals and their families, and TBPP wishes them a speedy recovery," the statement said.

"We thank the mill employees, firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel whose swift response and expertise helped us through this event. A full investigation is underway and we are working with the Ministry of Labour and relevant governmental authorities.

"TBPP remains fully operational at this time. We will issue further updates as required," the statement said.

The Ministry of Labour is investigating the incident. 

— TBnewswatch, with files from Katie Nicholls