Building back after burn, Wagner Lumber groundbreaking

By Jillian Marshall

August 12, 2014 Updated Aug 12, 2014 at 6:40 PM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Less than six months after it went down in flames, an Owego lumber company breaks ground on a new beginning.

February 16, 2014 was the day Wagner's Lumber changed. The saw mill caught on fire, destroying pretty much everything in the building.

But on Tuesday, owners broke ground on what they call a 'state of the art' saw mill.

Owners said by next summer, the currently muddy area, in between the new wood sorting building and old saw mill, will be a new building with two saw mills.

Les Wagner, president of Wagner Lumber, said this new addition will increase productivity by 25 to 50 percent.

Owners said while the fire was shocking and detrimental, it was a blessing in disguise for the international lumber manufacturer.

"For the first time ever, we've got a blank sheet of paper. So, our old mill was a small mill, we added on, we added on, and once you add on so much, you can't go backwards. So today is the start of a great saw mill," Wagner said.

About half of the staff has had to work at a different lumber location since the fire, but the owners hope that everyone will come back once the mill is finished. They will add about ten new jobs.

"These guys that come back to work at this facility, are going to be working at the state of the art saw mill in the northeast. This will be the finest saw mill in the whole northeast," said vice president of Wagner Lumber Steve Schaffer.

Construction on the mill has already started. Wagner said he hopes the mill will be up late this fall, with it up and running completely by July.