British Columbia

Burns Lake mill fire: jury rules deaths were accidental

A coroner's inquest into the deaths of two men at the Burns Lake sawmill explosion in January 2012 has made 41 recommendations aimed at improving safety.

Two men were killed in 2012 fire and explosion

Smoke rises as police tape surrounds Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake, B.C. Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

A coroners inquest into the deaths of two men at the Burns Lake sawmill explosion in January 2012 has concluded with 41 recommendations aimed at improving safety. The jury concluded that the deaths were accidental.

The jury deliberated for two days and made 33 recommendations, while the coroner made an additional eight recommendations.

Robert Luggi, 45, and Carl Charlie, 42, were both killed when the fire and explosion occurred at the Babine Forest Products mill. Burns Lake is 225 kilometres west of Prince George

A coroner's jury heard from nearly 50 witnesses over the 13-day inquest.

Maureen Luggi, a relative of both victims, says she is relieved to see the recommendations made by the jury today. 

"All of these recommendations are very meaningful and they are in line with the evidence that's been presented over the last two-and-a-half weeks," Luggi said.

The jury suggested that the company set up a first-aid facility and install a fire-pumping system at its mill.

It also recommended the company ensure mill compliance with the National Fire Code, install a fire-pumping system at the mill, have a stand-alone first aid facility and that a combustible gas monitor be used when workers report gas smells. 

A WorkSafeBC investigation concluded an accumulation of wood dust played a part in the explosion.

The recommendations are meant to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.

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