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Canton Paper Mill Fire Kills Two People

Two people are dead after a fire early this morning at the Evergreen Packaging mill in Canton.

The mill manager explained in a statement that at 5:15 a.m. a fire occurred in a tank. The tank was being repaired as part of a maintenance outage within the mill. The local fire department extinguished the blaze around 7 a.m., according to The Mountaineer.  

“It is with great sadness that we confirm two contractors involved in the tank repairs died as a result of the fire. Their families have been notified and have our deepest sympathy and support during this very difficult time. An immediate investigation regarding the cause of the fire has begun,” says Wally McDonald, mill manager in a statement.

“We appreciate the bravery and support of our local emergency response personnel,” continues McDonald in a statement. “We will share updates and information as appropriate, but wish to respect the privacy and difficult circumstances for the families of the contractors who lost their lives.”

The mill, which is located in Haywood county, is working with the local police, fire department and regulatory agencies to determine the cause of the fire.

In a tweet, Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers addressed the situation: "In Canton and Haywood County, the mill means more than justa a place that produces paper... it produces a blue-collar way of life that we take pride in," says Smathers. "For everyone affected, know that our community will continue to sincerely pray for you." 

This story will be updated as information becomes available. 

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina. She is a native of Franklin, NC who returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.