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PCA mill explosion, fatalities

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:42 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
We are posting updates regarding yesterday's (July 29) Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) explosion that resulted in three fatalities and one injury on our Internet Edition at and the Photo Album. We also will be publishing stories, pictures and related information in the Aug. 5 Tomahawk Leader.

We received the accompanying letter from a former mill family. If you have comments, memories or anything you'd like to share, please do so here and/or contact us at the Leader office at 715-453-2151 or email or We'd like to dedicate a portion of next week's newspaper to the mill's major involvement in our community.

Kathy Tobin
Tomahawk Leader

Re: PCA mill explosion, fatalities

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 1:45 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
It is with great sadness that I read the story in the Lynchburg Daily News and Advance about the explosion at the paper mill in Tomahawk. My father Cecil "Mac" McLaren began his career at the Tomahawk Kraft Paper Mill after graduating from college in 1927. He married Gladys, a local girl, and they raised 4 children in Tomahawk. "Mac" eventually was responsible for all the kraft paper mills owned by the then owner Owens Illinois and was transferred in 1956 to Toledo, Ohio. However, in his heart, he never left "his mill" and all its employees. Tomahawk will always be our family home as we returned three times to bury our father, mother, and brother. Please let your readers know that my family's prayers are with them; and especially those whose loved ones are no longer with them.

Mary McLaren Barton
Lynchburg, Va.

Re: PCA mill explosion, fatalities

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:03 pm
by Deb Richardson
My prayers of comfort to all families involved in this tragedy. My wish for the community... hug, kiss, and say " I love you" to your loved one each day before leaving for work. God Bless.

Re: PCA mill explosion, fatalities

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 6:25 pm
by kmartell
I feel the same way Deb does. So very very sad...

Re: PCA mill explosion, fatalities

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 8:49 pm
by MaryB
The number of people this accident has touched is huge. (I explained today to a friend who grew up in St. Paul that "the mill is Tomahawk; Tomahawk is the mill.") I heard about it yesterday not knowing my nephew was the injured man who was treated and released. Today, I learned that one of the victims was a childhood friend of my two older brothers. My father worked at the mill for over 35 years, my brother works there currently, two other brothers and myself worked there summers during college. I am so very grateful my family was spared this tragedy and so saddened for the families of those killed. I was told today that Tomahawk is such a great community because so many are reaching out to everyone who is hurting. My personal prayers go out to all those who have suffered a loss. God bless.

Re: PCA mill explosion, fatalities

Posted: Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:09 pm
by Deb Richardson
Mary, I know just what you mean when you say "the mill is Tomahawk" and "Tomahawk is the mill". When we moved there 18 years ago I was often asked what brought us to Tomahawk, my reply was my husband was transferred. The reply I would get in return was "Oh, what does he do at the mill?". It took me a while to understand exactly what that meant. I thought Tomahawk was more of a bedroom community than a mill town. A former Tomahawk resident had mentioned to me at one time that we would probably be always considered outsiders because we weren't employed at the mill. That was never the case.

Mary I'm glad your nephew is OK physically, I will be praying for emotional healing for him.

Re: PCA mill explosion, fatalities

Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:07 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
A letter in the Aug. 12 Tomahawk Leader:

It was with great sadness that I learned Tomahawk had made the national news for such a terrible reason. My heart goes out to the families of the workers who died in the mill explosion. Our family has spent many wonderful summers in Tomahawk and it holds a special place in my childhood memories. I hope that the injured individual is recovering.

Lisa DeWitt
Littleton, Colo.