This latest explosion and fire happened at about 8 a.m. at the Burns Lake facility, which is owned and operated by Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc. and left three mill workers injured. One of the injuries was serious, while the others were referred to as “minor.” Neither the company nor WorkSafeBC provided more details about the injuries.
The fire and explosion started inside a drying machine while it was shut down for maintenance. Investigators for WorkSafeBC refused to speculate as to the exact case, saying it was too early. They did note that the fact that the fire seemed to start inside a piece of equipment does indicate wood dust was not involved.
The company has been under increased scrutiny since 2012, in the wake of two fatal explosions at wood mills in the area involving combustible wood dust. The company has been fined about $49,000 recently for repeat safety violations, after being cited for combustible dust buildup several times in the past year at several of its facilities, including the Burns Lake plant.
The B.C. government issued a report in July, in which it made a number of recommendations for improving investigations, so that evidence collected would better stand up in court, thus making prosecutions easier and more likely. However, WorkSafeBC hasn’t decided to launch a full investigation into the latest fire and explosion., so it’s unknown whether or not those recommendations would come into play