Whitsell employees react to fire that claimed mill

Employees speak about their dedication to the company, and their initial thoughts after learning about the fire.

Posted: May 28, 2018 2:57 PM
Updated: May 28, 2018 7:47 PM

SAGINAW, Ore. -- Employees at witsell are still trying to absorb everything that has happened over the last 24 hours.

An employee told us as many as 150 workers could be affected.

READ MORE: Fire destroys Whitsell mill in Saginaw

As the remnants of Sunday night's fire continued to burn early into the morning, around ten of those employees gathered near the mill to look on and comfort each other.

"It's just weird to see it all gone," said Whitsell employee William Strom.

Strom has worked for whitsell for nearly four years.

He admits he isn't exactly a saint, but said the company gave him a chance when no one else would.

"They ended up looking past that and listening to the people I've worked for. They gave me a job and I've busted my butt for them to show them that I appreciate it. And that's why I want to stay here."

He said just two weeks ago they allowed him to take his job back after being out for seven months, because he had surgery on both of his knees.

The fire is also affecting Whitsell contractors who had equipment at the mill when it caught fire.

One of those contractors, Steve Moorehead, said his equipment is in good shape, but also the last thing on his mind.

"I've done a fair amount of work out here. But, my losses are minimal compared to the mill," said Moorehead. "So, I'm not concerned about that."

Strom said because of the kindness Whitsell has shown him, he just wants to be able to pay it back.

"I'll be here if they need me to clean it up. Every step of the way, I'll be right here," said Strom. "Because I don't want.. I don't want it to be gone. They were good enough to me, so that's what I think we should give them."

Employees did tell us that they've been told several of them could go work at another mill that the company owns.

Right now, there's no word on what the future could be for the mill in Saginaw.

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