A fire of undetermined cause that began late on August 15 engulfed the 100-year-old Port Moller seafood processing plant owned by Peter Pan Seafoods.
Company officials declined to comment but posted on the Peter Pan Seafoods’ Facebook page that all crew and personnel were reported safe and uninjured, and that the damage is extensive enough to halt operations for the rest of the 2017 season.
The company did note that all the processing workers were safely evacuated from the premises. Peter Pan spokesman Dale Schiffler said the investigation into the cause of the fire was ongoing.
Port Moller, the company’s most remote facility, is a salmon processing plant some 550 air miles southwest of Anchorage, on the north side of the Alaska Peninsula. It primarily processes sockeyes, but also produces small amounts of king, coho and chum salmon. Before the fire, the plant was able to process about 250,000 pounds of salmon a day, in product forms including frozen headed and gutted, fillets, salted fillets and sujiko (salted salmon eggs). During peak production, it employs a crew of 140 people.
Peter Pan was buying fish from and supporting a fleet of 105 drift gill netters and 30 set netters, both resident and non-resident fishermen.
An Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist, Bob Murphy, who is living at Port Moller for the summer, talked about the fire with Dave Bendinger of Dillingham’s public radio station, KDLG. Murphy told Bendinger that plant workers used a fire suppression system, water lines and hoses to fight the fire, but that their efforts were no match for flames fueled by dry timbers from the 100-year-old buildings.
Port Moller has no fire department.