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

Ranch Musings: What a wonderful long weekend in Williams Lake

Columnist David Zirnhelt is feeling hopeful after attending the Young Agrarians mixer

Editorial: The best of intentions

Laying out a plan doesn’t mean it happens quickly

Icemen and Meatheads win their first CSS floor hockey games

Meatheads scraped by 8% while the Icemen kept the Chicks with Sticks at bay.

Fly to Iceland to kick off the start of the Bouchie Lake Lawnchair Travel series

Pilot Joan McNaughton spent two weeks exploring the country last September

Ryan Elden looks to win medal for Team B.C. at Canada Winter Games

The Quesnel biathlete started his career competing for Cariboo Ski Touring Club

VIDEO: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Flying squirrels found to glow pink in the dark, including two from B.C.

Squirrels from Hope and Abbotsford were included in the biologists’ database

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

No Center of Gravity festival in Kelowna this summer: organizers

COG organizers said the hope is to return to the Okanagan in 2020

Most Read