Beetles suspected in burning down two Canadian sawmills

A large fire burns down the Lakeland Mills sawmill in Prince George, B.C., on Tuesday April 24, 2012.

[EF! Newswire note: Seems fishy that industrial logging, climate change and corporate greed is not to blame for destroying its own mills and killing its own employees… In any case, there’s two less mills in the world. For now, we say bravo to the beetle.]

According  to News:

A tiny insect that has been devouring trees across British Columbia has emerged as the prime suspect in last Monday’s devastating explosion at a Prince George sawmill that killed two workers and left nine others in critical condition.

Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fatal blast, but lumber industry and union leaders said the government needs to take a closer look at the consequences of sawing wood ravaged by mountain pine beetles.

A beetle infestation makes timber very dry and brittle. When milled, the wood leaves behind a fine, highly combustible dust.

The explosion at Lakeland comes three months after a similar incident decimated Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake, killing two other people.

“It’s basically the challenge of responding to the mountain pine beetle,” said John Allen, present of the Council of Forest Industries, which represents more than 50 B.C. sawmills.

“Up until earlier this year, the issue in front of us was how to saw lumber from dead trees. Now we’ve experienced these two sawmill explosions and fires … we now have this safety issue on our hands.”

Two people died as a result of the blast and fire that ripped through the Lakeland sawmill on Monday night. The B.C. Coroners’ Service confirmed Wednesday that Glenn Francis Roche, 46, died in an Edmonton hospital after suffering critical burns.

The explosion also claimed the life of Alan Little, a 43-year-old shift supervisor at the mill. Nine other employees are in serious or critical condition, according to a Tuesday report from the Northern Health Authority.

Twenty-four people were working inside the sawmill when the blast occurred.

Workers at the mill recall staggering through plumes of dark smoke after an explosion sent off an unwieldy fire that smouldered well into Tuesday evening.

“It was just a big boom and fireball, then the place just went up,” employee Rod Wood told CTV British Columbia.

Fire Chief John Lane confirmed that the inferno in Prince George has left local millworkers without a workplace.

“It was immediately clear that the sawmill portion of the plant was not salvageable,” he told a news conference on Tuesday.


More: Some thoughts on climate change and pine beetles in Canada

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