Fire razes Amish sawmill near Lakeview

An Amish sawmill was destroyed in an early Wednesday fire. (June 18, 2014)

PINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — An Amish sawmill in Montcalm County was destroyed in a fire early Wednesday believed to have ben started by lightning.

It happened at Forest View Lumber in the 6000 block of Kendaville Road in Pine Township, southeast of Lakeview.

Louis Shetler, who owns the land the sawmill sits on and lives next to it, said he was awoken around 3:30 a.m. by a boom. Describing it as the loudest thing he has ever heard, he thinks it was the sound of a lightning strike.

Shetler headed to the mill, finding it engulfed in flames.

Four fire departments trucked in water from nearby irrigation wells and dumped nearly 40,000 gallons on the blaze, but the wood-framed building was no match for the flames. The mill building was a total loss.

Forest View Lumber saws hardwood for pallets and also sells sawdust and firewood. It ran on three diesel engines that turned a large belt, which powered the saw blades and other machinery. Fire officials said Wednesday they were aware diesel was stored at the facility, but that the supply was never threatened by the fire.

Levi Yoder’s family-owned mill, which has been in operation since 1986, employed to seven people.

Non-Amish neighbors are certain this is not the end of Forest View Lumber.

“They are hard workers and it is really sad,” neighbor Jody Daimler said.

“I am sure that the community will rally around them because that’s what they do,” neighbor Marilyn Foster added. “That’s what we do.”

Members of the Amish community in the area said Wednesday they will rebuild.

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