Injured mill worker Dirk Weissbach and his wife Kathleen (left) and NDP leader Adrian Dix (right) listen as Maureen Luggi speaks to reporters about the death of her husband Robert at Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake in 2012.

Mill fire families demand justice

Widows, injured workers and relatives back NDP call for an independent inquiry into two explosions of dry dust in northern sawmills

VICTORIA – Survivors and relatives of those killed in a pair of sawmill explosions in northern B.C. came to the B.C. legislature Thursday to back calls for an independent inquiry into the disasters and how they were investigated.

Among the visitors was Maureen Luggi, a former chief of the Lake Babine First Nation, and her son Robert Luggi Jr. Her husband Robert and her second cousin Carl Charlie were both killed in the explosion in January 2012 at the Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake.

Both Maureen Luggi and Dirk Weissbach, who was also working on that evening shift and was one of 20 workers injured, questioned why the mill continued to operate as the temperature fell to below -40. Water lines were frozen and vent fans used to clear dust from the dry wood were turned off to keep heat in the building.

Maureen Luggi said she has reviewed the WorkSafeBC report, the Crown prosecutor decision not to lay criminal charges and a follow-up report by John Dyble, Premier Christy Clark’s deputy minister, which looked at problems with evidence gathering by WorkSafeBC investigators.

“Our families will never be the same,” she said. “I would like justice, I want transparency, I want accountability. All of this evidence that the Crown looked at, I want to know what’s in it.”

With family members in the public gallery, Clark took questions from NDP leader Adrian Dix in the legislature.

“My view is that in order to make sure this never happens again, we need to get on with fixing the problems that exist at WorkSafeBC,” Clark said. “We need to do it now.”

Dix told the legislature that two years after the fatal explosions in Burns Lake and at Lakeland Mills in Prince George, 42 per cent of mills inspected have continued to show non-compliance with dust control measures.

A coroner’s inquest is scheduled for this fall into the Burns Lake incident. Prosecutors have not yet decided on whether to lay charges in the Lakeland explosion, which also killed two workers and injured 22 more in April 2012.

 

Just Posted

Hwy. 5 closed south of Blue River due to ‘vehicle incident’

Social media reports say a semi-truck lost its load

Police warn Barriere residents about suspicious prowlers on private property late at night or early morning hours

Residents advised to secure their vehicles and remove all valuable contents

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

African Children’s Choir making a difference in the world

Waroto Children’s Choir celebrate Christ and caring for community on six month world tour

Snowpack at normal levels, but El Niño is lurking

Despite a warmer than usual winter that has produced a dearth of… Continue reading

REPLAY: B.C’s best videos this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Patriots make 3rd straight Super Bowl, beat Chiefs 37-31 in OT

New England will meet L.A. Rams in NFL title game

Pettersson returns to lead Canucks to 3-2 win over Red Wings

Vancouver’s super rookie has 2 points in first game back after knee injury

Skaters stranded in Saint John, NB, amid storm on last day of championships

More than half of the flights out of the city’s airport were cancelled due to the weather

Call for tighter bail rules after Saudi sex-crime suspect vanishes

Mohammed Zuraibi Alzoabi was facing charges related to alleged sexual assault, criminal harassment, assault and forcible confinement of a woman

12 poisoned eagles found on Vancouver Island

Improper disposal of euthanized animal suspected

Olympic softball qualifier to be held in B.C.

Tournament is to be held Aug. 25 to Sept. 1

B.C. resident creates global sport training program

The 20 hour course teaches the science and application of interval training at the university level

B.C. VIEWS: Fact-checking the NDP’s speculation tax on empty homes

Negative-option billing is still legal for governments

Most Read