Close collaboration decisive after major fire
How do you rebuild a business when the unthinkable happens? The forestry group Holmen and If had to display both strong collaborative skills and ingenuity when a fire had ravaged one of the group’s paper mills.
One of the biggest ever claims
What would prove to be one of If's biggest ever claims in recent years began on a perfectly normal Friday afternoon in November 2015. Just after 6 pm the emergency services received the alarm – a fire had started in the Hallsta paper mill to the north of Norrtälje. It spread quickly, and although the emergency services managed to put out the fire in one and a half hours, the damage was extensive.
Victoria Thomasfolk at If's property damage department had just returned from a trip abroad and was at home on the sofa when she heard the news. She phoned her contact at the forestry group Holmen to see if they needed help.
"I travelled there on the Saturday morning to see what the situation was on site. We realised very soon that this was a really major claim, although the true extent that later emerged was something we couldn't imagine on that first weekend," she says.
The fire started in refiners
The fire had started in one of the plant's refiners. It was then able to spread via ducts and cable trays to other parts of the four-storey building. Neither of the two paper machines were damaged, but cables and a lot of electronic equipment in the building were damaged. Most of them were never reached by the flames but were damaged by the heat, which reached temperatures of several hundred degrees while the fire raged.
The effect was that all production had to be shut down. "We manufacture our own pulp for paper and can't buy the same product on the market – so we're dependent on the factory operating. We usually count our shutdowns in terms of minutes, but in this case it took almost 100 days before we were back in full production again," says Johan Abrahamsson, Acting Site Manager at the Hallsta paper mill.
"When I arrived a couple of days after the fire, all the electronics in the building were knocked out, everything was black and sooty. Cables were hanging over the place, it was cold as the heating system wasn't working and everything was soaking wet from the extinguishing water. It looked really bad," recalls Magnus Johansson, claims adjuster and part of If's team during the process of settling the claim.