An early New Year’s Day fire destroyed a major component of a sawmill in Bearden that is the Ouachita County community’s largest employer. But the Anthony Timberlands Inc. pine sawmill and its 215 employees will be working by next week, the company’s president, Steven M. Anthony, said Friday morning.

The fire was discovered about 12:30 a.m., about 30 minutes after a private security firm had made its hourly round of the sawmill property, he said. By the time an employee discovered the fire, it was fully involved, Anthony said. The fire was contained by 2 a.m. and “pretty much out” by 4 a.m., he said.

Fire departments from Camden, Fordyce, Harmony Grove and East Camden assisted Bearden volunteer firefighters in extinguishing the blaze. Authorities hadn’t established Friday how the fire began.

“We’re not even sure where it started,” Anthony said. The fire destroyed the part of the sawmill called the band mill, the main department for breaking down large logs, according to a news release. Its operation employs a dozen people and accounts for about 15 percent of total mill production.

A newer processing facility for small logs, called the sharp chain mill, was undamaged, the news release said.

From Arkansas Online: