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R-Y Timber to close sawmill in Livingston after second fire in six months

RY-Timber has been operating the mill in Livingston for more than 20 years. Photo from R-Y Timber's Facebook page.
R-Y Timber's Facebook page
RY-Timber has been operating the mill in Livingston for more than 20 years.

One of Montana’s top timber manufacturers is closing its last remaining sawmill in the state after it caught fire for the second time in six months.

R-Y Timber general manager Dan Richards says the company shared its decision to close the Livingston facility with its employees Monday.

In September, a fire destroyed the planer building. Then, last week, a fire broke out in the sawmill building.

“I think this is the one that broke the camel's back," Richards said. "No way to continue not knowing how long it was going to take to repair. The fire destroyed the roof of the (sawmill) building."

R-Y Timber’s mill in Townsend shuttered in 2020. Some employees were transferred to Livingston. Now, Richards says the Livingston closure means the loss of about 80 employees.

“Well, of course it’s very sad news when you have to lay people off, especially in a small town like this," he said. "There’s probably a limited amount of job opportunities that pay what R-Y timber paid."

Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale and Sen. Steve Daines each released statements expressing disappointment in the closure. Rosendale says he is working with R-Y Timber to “provide support for the displaced workers and their families.”

In a statement U.S. Sen. Jon Tester wrote he's "ready to help the region rebound by working to ensure that folks have access to resources they need to support their families and communities.”

General manager Dan Richards says employees will be able to work until the end of the week. Some will stay on longer to help with fire cleanup.

Olivia Weitz covers Bozeman and surrounding communities in Southwest Montana for Yellowstone Public Radio. She has reported for Northwest News Network and Boise State Public Radio and previously worked at a daily print newspaper. She is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and the Transom Story Workshop.