May 1, 2011

Word spread quickly through a Washington County community last week when a 60-year-old mill worker was killed in an explosion. He was just weeks away from retirement, according to an acquaintance, when the accident occurred. Paramedics moved quickly and transported him by helicopter to a trauma center, where he was pronounced dead.

Two other workers were involved in the lumber mill accident as well. A 58-year-old man was seriously injured, and paramedics transported him to the trauma center. Reports say he is in fair condition. The other man, age 40, reportedly suffered a shoulder injury; he was also taken to a hospital for treatment.

Fire department officials said the man who died and man who was more seriously injured were dismantling a hydraulic accumulator at the time of the explosion. That piece of equipment is a 6-foot pressurized steel pipe with a cap on one end.

Apparently, they did not know that the pipe was still pressurized as they worked. In the fire department’s words, the cap “exploded from the end of the canister.” It struck the two men with great force. The third man was not in its direct path when he sustained his injuries.

Firefighters from two towns were called to the scene.

The lumber mill is part of a family-owned company. According to its website, the Portland-based business has holdings in four Western states, including an estimated 500,000 acres of timberland. Established in the 1850s, the company is one of the oldest, continuously operating forest products companies in the country.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the accident.

Sources:, “Oregon lumber mill explosion kills 1, injures 2,” 05/12/2011, “Family of man injured from explosion at Stimson Lumber releases statement,” Rebecca Woolington, 05/12/2011



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