A paper mill in northern Michigan suffered a significant fire on Wednesday, leading to road closures, evacuation orders, and ongoing environmental monitoring efforts.
The incident occurred at the Tissue Depot property along M-27 in downtown Cheboygan, approximately 290 miles northwest of Detroit.
The blaze ignited around 11 a.m. on Wednesday, producing thick and heavy plumes of black and gray smoke visible for miles around.
Efforts to contain the fire were underway, with fire crews working to limit the damage to a storage building within the mill. Fortunately, no mill employees or firefighters were injured during the incident.
The fire originated in an area of the mill where no employees were present at ignition. Fire Chief Don Dailey explained that the situation was complicated by several tons of stored plastic within the building.
Due to the extensive damage, determining the exact cause of the fire was expected to be challenging. As a precaution, residents within a 1-mile radius of the Tissue Depot were instructed to shelter until 1:30 p.m. on Thursday.
This directive was issued by the Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Department, who cited an “abundance of caution.” The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) actively monitored local air quality.
EPA officials planned to collaborate with city and county authorities to assess air quality findings during a meeting scheduled for Thursday morning.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy dispatched staff to Cheboygan to assist in assessing the situation.
Meanwhile, the nearby Cheboygan Lock and Dam, which facilitate boat navigation on the Cheboygan River, temporarily ceased operations due to the ongoing emergency.
This fire incident marked a distressing development for the mill, previously known as Great Lakes Tissue Co., which had once employed around 300 workers.
Efforts to combat the blaze continued, prioritizing containing and extinguishing the fire safely while addressing the potential environmental impact of the incident.