DIXFIELD – A 24-year-old man who lost part of his right hand early Tuesday in a Dixfield lumber mill accident underwent at least 18 hours of surgery at a Boston hospital, officials said Tuesday night.

Surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital were still completing work at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday on the Irving Forest Products Inc. employee, according to J.D. Irving spokeswoman Mary Keith in St. John, New Brunswick. She declined to release the worker’s name or hometown.

“His injury is not life-threatening,” Keith said by telephone from Canada. “We’re investigating it, but our first priority is to our employee and his family, and to see that he gets the best care possible.”

Keith said the accident happened at 3:10 a.m. The maintenance employee of six years was working in the Dillon boiler area with two others. An auger and conveyor belt there receive wood chips, which are byproducts of the mill.

Keith said the belt feeds chips into the boiler, fueling it to generate steam.

The two workers with the injured man and three others who came to his assistance cut power to the equipment and extricated the man.

“We’re trying to understand how the injury occurred,” Keith said.

Both Med-Care Ambulance and Dixfield firefighters were called to the mill at 3:17 a.m. by employees working with the man.

Contacted Tuesday night by phone in Auburn, Med-Care Director Dean Milligan said the man was waiting at the mill’s front gate when the ambulance arrived.

“He was doubled over, holding his right hand and in extreme hysteria,” Milligan said, reading from the ambulance crew’s run sheet.

According to the sheet, the worker got his right hand caught in a blower auger and suffered a partial amputation of the hand: four fingers and the thumb, all of which were recovered.

Based on information she got about the accident, Keith said the man’s fingers were not completely severed.

Med-Care took the man to Rumford Hospital, where he was picked up by LifeFlight helicopter and flown directly to Boston.

The area where the accident occurred was shut down.

Keith said the last lost-time accident at the mill happened in September when an employee broke a finger and was out of work for a day.


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