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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An interior photo of Basecamp Resort in Revelstoke. (Submitted)
New hotel opening in Revelstoke

The Canmore based company is expanding into B.C.

Frank Desrosiers is a videographer based in Revelstoke. His art film Full Circle recently debuted at LUNA Re-imagined. (Contributed)
Revelstokians bike for mental health in latest cycling film

Full Circle by local filmmaker debuted at LUNA Re-imagined

Begbie View Elementary Corban casts his vote in last week’s mock student election. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke students vote green in provincial mock election

Begbie View Elementary was one of more than 700 elementary and high school schools that took part

Friends and family of Sonya Riome, 35, are confirming she died in the fire. (Contributed)
Woman dies in weekend Revelstoke house fire

The fire gutted the property

Above, MLA-elect Doug Clovechok cast his vote early. Photo submitted
MLA-elect Clovechok reflects on election

He’s ready to get to work as an opposition MLA, he says

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

Kelowna Secondary School. (SD23 photo)
Second case of COVID-19 confirmed at Kelowna Secondary School

Interior Health has confirmed the new case is unrelated to the one announced Sunday

The Stuart Park ice rink in January 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Popular Kelowna outdoor ice rink will open amid COVID-19 pandemic

City council approved COVID-related changes to the Stuart Park ice rink’s operations

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health sees 31 new cases of COVID-19 over record-breaking weekend

Eighty-six cases remain active and one person is hospitalized with the virus

Salmon Arm RCMP responded to a seven-vehicle chain reaction collision early Monday morning, Oct. 26. (File photo)
One person injured in seven-vehicle chain-reaction collision in Salmon Arm

Snow packed to ice, speed contributing factors behind collisions

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP responded to a single-vehicle collision on Highway 1 east of Salmon Arm early Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (File photo)
Salmon Arm man killed in collision on Highway 1

RCMP say slippery road conditions contributing factor behind collision

Most Read