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CITY: Core review of services getting underway A3 Wednesday, January 25, 2012 Northern Health institutes Code Orange ... what does that mean? A3 Newsline 250-564-0005 ‘Chaos reigned supreme’ ■ Two dead in Burns Lake sawmill fire Northern communities rally to provide assistance during and after emergency Rebecca Billard Black Press A second body has been found in the debris of the Babine Forest Products sawmill, leveled by an explosion and fire Friday, Jan. 20. A specialized team of investigators from the BC Coroners Service identification and disaster response unit travelled to the scene Sunday to work alongside RCMP to locate and identify the two men missing since the explosion and fire. The first body was located on the afternoon of Jan. 22. The search for the second man began at the area of the site where the missing workers were most likely to have been at the time of the blast. Nineteen others were injured. Eight of those have since been released from hospitals while others remain in hospitals in Vanderhoof, Prince George, Edmonton, and Vancouver and Victoria. The community has Free Press been reeling in the wake of the explosion and fire that has destroyed Northern Health instituted one of the town’s major a Code Orange during employers. blaze...A3 Burns Lake Fire Chief City council offers Jim McBride gave a condolences...A5 stark assessment of the Premier Christy Clark situation at a press contours area...A6 ference Saturday. Steelworkers set up fund “I have never seen to help workers...A6 the devastation that I CILA helping contractors witnessed last night,” affected by fire...A6 he said. “When I arrived, the mill was completely engulfed in flames. It was devastation ... chaos reigned supreme.” McBride was joined at the conference by Staff Sgt. Grant MacDonald from the Burns Lake RCMP; Mayor Luke Strimbold; Bill Miller, Area B director from the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako; Burns Lake Band Chief Albert Gerow; and Steve Zika, Hampton Affiliates CEO, which owns the mill. Many of the mill’s employees were gathered at the parking lot when McBride arrived. “I received numerous reports that there was five people unaccounted for. Three were located.” He said the many large buildings at the mill made locating missing individuals a daunting task. The three men were located within 20 minutes of the fire crew arriving at the scene. They were disoriented, Coverage La ur a BLA C K W ELL/ Bla ck Pre s s The Babine Forest Products mill near Burns Lake smoulders following an explosion and fire that completely destroyed the mill Friday, killing two people. had severe burns and were temporarily deaf from the loud explosion. He said at 3:30 a.m. the fire crew ran out of water to fight the fire. At this time the volunteer crew withdrew its equipment. The fire department was using 2,300 imperial gallons of water per second to battle the blaze. “We had three pumper trucks working at the mill’s reservoir [which holds 300,000 gallons] and would have had an adequate water supply if we were fighting a normal fire.” The explosion severed the sprinkler system, hindering efforts. The Hampton maintenance crew recognized this and shut off all the valves to the sprinkler system. “I couldn’t imagine anything as big as this fire .... you have got to imagine the size of the mill. When I arrived it was engulfed in flames from stem to stern.  Our first priority was the safety of the employees. Equipment can be replaced, but individuals cannot.” Gerow, representing Burns Lake Native Development Corporation, which has an 11 per cent ownership of the mill, said, “Our hearts go out to the families. I spent a number of hours at the Lakes District Hospital and the Margaret Patrick Memorial Hall giving families comfort and there is still hope that missing family members will come home.” Gerow said any reports of a gas smell days before the explosion are hearsay. “There is nothing definite ... our first concern is the immediate welfare of all of the employees.” Asked about the future of Babine Forest Products, which employs about 250 people in the community. Hampton Affliiates CEO Zika said the future of the mill is important to the community and important to Hampton. “The decision to rebuild depends on a lot of factors, but I can assure you we will be transparent with any decisions we make. “There has been a mountain pine beetle problem in the turn to PAGE A6

January 25, 2012

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