Late last night, residents as far as twenty-five blocks away felt an explosion rip through the Lakeland Mills sawmill in Prince George, on River Road.
Daybreak reporter Wil Fundal spoke with Carolina De Ryk this morning to explain what happened.
Emergency crews rushed to the scene after the explosion engulfed the
mill at about 9:45 p.m. PT, shaking nearby homes and businesses. Flames
at the sawmill, located about one kilometre outside the city, were
reported to have shot more than 60 metres in the air at one point,
according to witnesses.
Daybreak's Robert Doane and Wil Fundal were on the scene shortly after the fire happened. They spoke to eyewitnesses last night.
Brian Croy is the vice-president of the United Steelworker's Union. He was sitting in the lunchroom when the explosion happened. Here's what he saw.
Roberto Sciera's father was in the mill when the explosion hit. He found out via Facebook.
(Andrew Johnson/Canadian Press)
The fire that followed has now been controlled but there are still
hotspots and the fire isn't expected to be fully extinguished for
another 24 to 48 hours, officials said Tuesday.
"There's nothing left standing as far as a recognizable physical
structure. It was literally just a ball of flame," said Cameron Stolz, a
Prince George city councillor.
All 50 workers who were on the job Monday night have been accounted for, officials said.
Twenty-five people with varying injuries were treated at University
Hospital of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, a Northern
Health representative said.
A Code Orange was called for the hospital. Daybreak's Robert Doane spoke to Northern Health's Steve Raper.
Northern Health and the RCMP have confirmed that one person has died as a result of injuries in hospital.
A total of 17 others remained in hospital on Tuesday morning, including four
who had been transferred by air ambulance to other facilities -- three to
Vancouver and one to Edmonton.
"There were certainly some patients
with some very severe burns, and we had to evacuate those to the
waiting ambulances some distance away," fire Chief John Lane told CBC's
The fire chief said the sawmill, the log processing facility and the
sorting facility were all destroyed, but the planer facility and an
energy plant were intact.
The cause of the explosion and fire was not yet known.
Fire continues to burn, crews have it contained
continued to burn at the Lakeland Mils sawmill this morning, but crews
say they had it contained. CBC's Andrew Glass visited the site.
John Lane is fire chief for Prince George. He explains how crews are dealing with the fire.
Flames 'lit up the entire downtown'
Stolz told CBC News that he rushed to the scene after the explosion shook the house he was in.
"The flames literally lit up the entire downtown; they must have been visible for kilometres," he said.
The "cataclysmic" fire had many local families in shock, Stolz said.
"Families are there, and they're just thankful and giving up their prayers that no one was killed in the fire," he said.
Stolz said emergency services called in all the fire halls and extra
staff, and extra workers rushed in to help at the local hospital.
Economic hit unknown
Prince George Mayor Shari Green was in Victoria when the explosion hit. She says it is too early to even think about the economic hit the city will take as a result of this disaster.
Severe burns 'quite gruesome'
at the Lakeland Sawmill scrambled to help each other immediately after
the blast, with one saying he used scissors to cut charred clothing off
those with severely burned skin.
"It was quite gruesome," said Brian Croy, first vice-president of the
United Steelworkers Local 1-424, in an interview with the The Canadian
Press from his home.
"When you walk out, there was guys with their skin hanging off their arms and stuff from being burned."
Croy said he was among six people in the mill's lunchroom talking about training when the explosion happened.
"That thing came up so fast, so quick. I don't know where it came
from, but it was almost like a cannon going off. It blew through there.
It ended just that quick," he said.
It's the second devastating explosion in B.C. in recent months. In January, an explosion tore through a mill
near Burns Lake, killing two and destroying the mill.
Burns Lake mayor Luke Strimbold offered his condolences to Prince George this morning.
"We've had the unfortunate experience of going through this on two
occasions in the last few months, and we're certainly hoping not to have
to go through it again," said Northern Health's Steve Raper.
There was one confirmed death as a result of the fire and explosion at around 8:30 this morning.
With files from The Canadian Press and CBCnews.ca.
Daybreak's Andrew Kurjata compiled a number of Tweets and photos as people reacted to the fire and explosion last night and into the morning.
View the story "Lakeland Mill Fire and Explosions in Prince George" on Storify] Lakeland Mill Fire and Explosions in Prince George UPDATED: Over 25 people were injured when an explosion and fire hit the Lakeland Mills sawmill in Prince George Monday night (April 24). Here is the reaction from across the internet. Full story here: http://www.cbc.ca/daybreaknorth/interviews/2012/04/24/lakeland-mills-sawmill-explosion-and-fire-roc
Storified by Andrew Kurjata · Tue, Apr 24 2012 12:34:31
explosion in prince George just minus ago any ideas what happenedSue Katarynych
Hearing reports of an explosion at the CN Rail yards downtown #PrinceGeorge :-(aaron | ekman
Huge explosion, fire at CN rail yards #princegeorge #pgcitizenNeil Godbout
Lakeland Mill fire #PrinceGeorge http://pic.twitter.com/ImyKZnOoRon Gallo
Lakeland Mills explosionwolvan
Sounds like a big/huge explosion in the rail yard near downtown #PG. Lakeland Mills?Mike Kellett
Huge explosion downtown the sky is full of smoke and flamesSussanne Skidmore
A huge explosion at Lakeland Mills, there are massive flames and you can hear the sirens from the Hart. Let's all pray that no one is hurt.Shhhh
Word of large explosion and possible fire near CN rail yard in #PrinceGeorge. Possibly at Lakeland. Large flames visible from far away.Jeff Sargeant
@akurjata @chrisleboe @chrisbowler you guys seeing this? http://instagr.am/p/Jyj5YsRQD0/D. H.
Wow. Found the fire. Heard the explosion at home. This is bad news. :( http://pic.twitter.com/oqplp429Matt Porteous
RT @ron_gallo: #PrinceGeorge Ambulances leaving the scene. Police advising onlookers to leave the area as they are expecting a 2nd explosionYXS - PG Airport
#daybreaknorth explosion and fire at Lakeland mill. Police telling onlookers to leave.. Lots of sirens...Robert Doane
@GlobalBC Explosion at Lakeland Mill in Prince George BC http://pic.twitter.com/EuqO8EkmDesiree Loyie
@docdez @akurjata @chrisbowler Just now. We can see it from our place. It's big. http://pic.twitter.com/79oX4VFRChris Leboe
Lakeland mill on fire. Can still hear explosions. #princegeorge http://pic.twitter.com/XED3sthzDave Branco
@MatthewBraun1 same here... Millar Addition, #princegeorge ...explosion at the MIll shook our house and sucked our window shutGlen Thielmann
Lakeland mill #princegeorge on fire. Hospital declares code orange b #pgmillfire http://pic.twitter.com/lv1MMDdrCBC Daybreak North
Prince George RCMP confirm a large explosion happened just before 10PM at Lakeland Mills. There are reports several people have been hurt.Global BC
Lakeland mill #prince George is burning down. Let's hope everyone is ok!! http://pic.twitter.com/xPCQxnFpGale Horth
Another small explosion at the Lakeland Mill #PrinceGeorge http://pic.twitter.com/ch4btnnTRon Gallo
listening to sirens & watching the flames from across town. Prayers for strength go out to #princegeorge emergency workers & hospital staffBecky Stark
I can see smoke and glow from my house. #princegeorge #MillFire #MultipleSirens #CodeOrangeKathy Rice
UHNBC declares code orange #pgmillfireWil Fundal
#princegeorge fire crews still fighting fire at Lakeland mills http://pic.twitter.com/kO6H0ptyDave Branco
Lakeland mill on fire in Prince George!!! #fire http://pic.twitter.com/cr6XkXjdTiffany Huber
My daughter just sent me this pic of Lakeland Mill burning in Prince George. http://pic.twitter.com/0dfzodYwBlair Craft
Massive explosion at fire at #PrinceGeorge Lakeland mill. Northern Health in process of setting up emergency protocols.Jeff Sargeant
#princegeorge night sky glows red from the Lakeland mill fire http://pic.twitter.com/Ne8PXxzgDave Branco
Crowd is starting to disperse as the flames die down but this far from over. #PrinceGeorge #MillFire http://pic.twitter.com/Ef5qRHncRon Gallo
Robert Doane's firsthand picture of Lakeland Mills fire in Prince George. No word on injuries. #cbc http://yfrog.com/obleipwjJason Proctor
Reporter Wil Fundal says crowd watching giant mill fire in disbelief. Northern Health says hospital mobilizing to deal with emergency. #cbcJason Proctor
The explosion sucked the air out of our place. Caused closed windows to violently open and slam shut.bastiaanpg
8 in hospital. Owner on his way. Enviro clean up crews have been notified. #pgexplosion #pgmillfire #princegeorgekeiisha*
16 casualties from Lakeland Mill fire being treated at #PrinceGeorge hospital. Northern Health in Code Orange, full disaster modeJeff Sargeant
@akurjata @wilfundal code orange means the hospital is prepared for multiple casualties. They have cross trained with BCAS on this.John Togyi
The northern lights are out tonight in full force hoping and praying for all the workers and their familiesSussanne Skidmore
Listen to the Prince George RCMP Live on Scanbc at http://ltr.tac9.ca:8000/pg.m3uScanBC
UPDATE - #RCMP are reporting up to 30 people injured in the explosion at Lakeland Mill. #PrinceGeorge Hospital is on Code Orange.ScanBC
#PrinceGeorge Airport NOT affected by Lakeland Mill fire. Our thoughts going out to everyone affected. #iheartpgYXS - PG Airport
@akurjata http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150757714147427.425711.334492682426&type=1 Pics I took downtownAndrew Tomlinson
#pgmillfire started around 9:45 pm local time. #RCMP newser about to start. 12 in hospital. http://pic.twitter.com/9YfRbuIHWil Fundal
Lakeland mill fire | FacebookSign Up Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
#daybreaknorth fire chief lane says cause fire unknown. 9:30 received call bout fire n explosionRobert Doane
Sawmill on fire. Fire now contained in mill. Sawmill complete loss.Robert Doane
Planer section. Mostly contained. 50 people were working. Some with severe burns. 5 people unaccounted for.Robert Doane
Investigation will take some time. Cause of fire unknown. Those in planer portion of mil, all accounted for #daybreaknorthRobert Doane
Lakeland sawmill is a write off. Seriously impacts #PrinceGeorge district energy system.Robert Doane
@Northern_Health 25 patients treated, 3 patients will be transferred by air ambulance to Vancouver. 15 remain in hospital #PrinceGeorgeWil Fundal
#princegeorge My thoughts and prayers go out to the friends, family and co-workers of mill fire and explosion last night!Brian Skakun
Thankful this morning. After long night, everyone accounted for #PrinceGeorge Lakeland fire. Thoughts with families of injured.Garth Frizzell
Thoughts and prayers go out to injured workers in Prince George and to their families, friends and the community.Adrian Dix
At work in Victoria but my heart and prayers are in #PrinceGeorge - amazing response from emergency responders and hospital staff #bcpoliShirley Bond
Our thoughts are with the workers of the Prince George sawmill this morningCUPE825
#princegeorge news conference about to begin. http://pic.twitter.com/5Hu0we9eCBC Daybreak North
#princegeorge chief John lane speaks to media. http://pic.twitter.com/7cgvYdSYCBC Daybreak North
Confirmed by RCMP and Northern Health: one dead as result of Lakeland Mils sawmill explosion and fire in #princegeorge.Andrew Kurjata
"@akurjata: Confirmed: one dead as result of Lakeland Mills sawmill fire/explosion." What a sad day here in #princegeorge :(Kaarina Mooney
My thoughts today are with my friends and neighbours whose lives have been shaken by the #PrinceGeorge Lakeland Mills explosion and fire.Ron Gallo
Think about the brothers and sisters of USW 1-424 who lost two of their own in Prince George #solidarityJeff Paradis
Interviews, photos, video and more from the Lakeland Mills fire in #princegeorge. http://bit.ly/J7hoqrCBC Daybreak North