The seedling cooler warehouse at the J.D. Little Forest Centre had part of its roof collapse Friday.
A portion of the roof gave way overnight and was discovered by the first arriving staff at about 6 a.m. Friday morning. More of the roof collapsed later Friday morning.
No one was inside the facility at the time and no injuries occurred.
The nursery complex is owned by Canfor and is located about a kilometre from the forest company's Northwood Pulp Mill. According to company officials, the cooler building contained about 16 million seedlings with an estimated value of $3 million.
WorkSafeBC and Canfor officials assessed the situation throughout the day and by mid-afternoon had determined a quick course of action.
Canfor's vice president of Canadian woodlands, Tom Lewis, said the first priority was saving the trees now exposed to the elements. He said contact was quickly made with other nurseries and cooler facilities in the area to find foster homes for the wee trees, and modify facilities of their own.
"Our understanding is, none of the trees were lost," he said. "The weather is co-operating. It's below zero and that's the temps they need. It's the warm weather that's the risk, not the cold. They are stored at minus-2 degrees Celsius. They also can't be too cold because that impacts on the roots, but they are held at colder temperatures and as [we move towards planting season] they are warmed up in a controlled fashion."
WorkSafeBC has given Canfor the go-ahead to demolish the structure, and part of that process will be looking for clues as to why the warehouse fell. It started with part of the roof caving in, apparently due to the snow-load, followed by two walls collapsing under the pressures from above.
"We have no idea what caused the collapse," said Lewis. "These structures are engineered to withstand significant snow loads. We will have investigations ongoing for the next little while. This is not a particularly heavy snow year."
The affected seedlings are spruce and pine, and all are slated for planting this spring in the central interior.