Explosion at Babine Forest Products

There has been unconfirmed reports of an explosion and fire at the Hampton Affiliates, Babine Forest Products mill, East of Burns Lake.

There is unconfirmed reports that the sawmill component of the Babine Forest Products mill has completely burnt to the ground.

There is unconfirmed reports that the sawmill component of the Babine Forest Products mill has completely burnt to the ground.

Update: Constable Lesley Smith from Prince George RCMP said that while she can’t confirm if there has been any fatalities in the Babine Forest Products explosion and fire, she said there is still a number of people that are unaccounted for at the mill. This is contrary to fire chief Jim McBride’s comments made to Global TV earlier this morning.

“RCMP and the Burns Lake Fire and Rescue Department are still on the scene. Given the nature and scale of the event, emergency resources from the neighbouring communities of Fraser Lake, Houston and Vanderhoof attended the incident.

Constable Smith said that Work Safe B.C. and Northern Health are taking over the investigation.

“The fire has now been contained and the cause of the fire is still under investigation,” Cst. Smith said, adding that although contained, it is still burning.

“The area has been secured. The Office of the Fire Commissioner and Work Safe B.C. are on site and are working with emergency crews, who are also battling blizzard type conditions.”

She said she could confirm that there was 30 workers on shift at the mill when the explosion occurred and that the majority of them have been injured, with a number of them still unaccounted for. “The mill employs about 250 personnel and approximately 30 were on shift at the time of the incident. When emergency crews arrived efforts began immediately to fight the fire, evacuate the workers and transport the injured to hospital for treatment.”

Northern Heath say a ‘code orange’ [mass causality accident] was called at 10:52 p.m. last night, which extended from Prince George to Smithers.

Steve Raper, with Northern Health communications said that there is no confirmed fatalites at this point.

He explained a code orange further, “It’s a protocol and process we put into place when we may expect mass casualties, something like a mill explosion for example, in which case it requires us to mobilize all of our physicians, staff, support services, supply services, in the affected areas,” said Raper.

With a code orange, he said it’s ‘all hands on deck’ to address potential situations that may come up. “It triggers all kinds of service protocols to ensure we’re capable to responding to any potential issue.”

The Code Orange will bring all necessary health services in an area to a full complement of staff to handle a spike in patients.

Northern Health mobilized physicians, staff and supplies through the Hwy. 16 corridor up to and including the University Hospital of Northern B.C. and Smithers.

Nineteen patients have been treated with injuries that range from minor to critical including some with severe burns.

According to Northern Health, four patients have been airlifted from Prince George, two to Edmonton and two to Vancouver General Hospital. Eight patients have been transferred to the University Hospital of Northern B.C., one of those patients will be transferred to a Vancouver hospital, but is currently in stable condition.

Two patients remain in the Bulkley Valley Hospital in Smithers, one remains in St. John Hospital in Vanderhoof.

The remaining patients have been discharged and the code orange has been downgraded.

RCMP are asking the public to avoid the area as road conditions are extremely dangerous and current efforts are focused on the fire.

“This is a tragic loss for the community not only because individuals have been injured but it was a key employer for the area”, said St. Sgt. Grant MacDonald from the Burns Lake RCMP detachment. “The response from the community and assistance from neighbouring RCMP detachments, fire halls and health services has been vital.”

Previously: There has been unconfirmed reports of an explosion and fire at the Hampton Affiliates, Babine Forest Products mill, East of Burns Lake.

Fire chief Jim McBride from the Burns Lake Fire and Rescue Department advised emergency responders to use caution when traveling to the mill, due to extreme weather conditions.

Reportedly, multiple ambulances arrived at the mill to transport injured workers to the Lakes District Hospital.

There has been unconfirmed reports that several people have been severely burnt and a number of people are unaccounted for.

Prince George RCMP confirmed to Lakes District News that there has been an incident at the mill and that police, fire and ambulance attended.

B.C. Hydro was called to the mill to restore power and Pacific Northern Gas arrived on the scene.

Unconfirmed reports have also come in that the mill was completely engulfed in flames and the fire department asked for outlying fire departments to assist in putting out the blaze.

Lakes District News was on the scene at the Lakes District Hospital as ambulances were arriving with injured workers. An employee of Babine Forest Products said she was working with a crew of 25 people, when she noticed a strong gas smell. “All of a sudden there was a big explosion. It was so loud. About half the crew was seriously injured. I was one of the lucky ones as I was working down the other end of the mill. There is a huge fire at the mill … I don’t know if everyone is okay or even where half the crew is. I am told everyone is being brought to the Lakes District Hospital so that everyone can be accounted for.”

Reports are coming in that the Lakes District Hospital is at capacity.

Another Babine Forest Products employee said to Lakes District News that he also smelled gas and said the explosion was so loud that he is having trouble hearing anything.

A crowd of concerned locals and family members gathered outside the hospital hoping to hear news. Burns Lake RCMP blocked off Centre Street, near the hospital, to allow emergency vehicles easy access.

Fraser Lake RCMP also reportedly attended and were on hand at the Lakes District Hospital.

There has now been unconfirmed reports of further fires breaking out at the mill and RCMP have all entrances to the mill blocked off.

 

 

Just Posted

Outside the Kitimat RCMP police station, Diversity Morgan’s family and Kitimat RCMP come together for a pride flag-raising ceremony. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Kitimat RCMP host pride flag ceremony in memory of Diversity Morgan

“We’re gathered here in solidarity for anyone who’s ever experienced prejudice or discrimination”

(Haisla First Nation logo)
Haisla Nation host walk for strength and series of virtual sessions for Indigenous History Month

The purpose of the walk is to bring Haisla Nation members together and show their collective support

The District of Kitimat will be awarding business owners with a store front up to $5,000 to cover up to 50 per cent of exterior renovations. (Norhtern Development logo)
The District of Kitimat is awarding $5,000 to storefront owners for exterior renovations

The district has set aside $20,000 this year and non-profits are also eligible

Ron getting loose and sipping a glass of the family’s favourite greek amber spirit, Metaxa. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Ron Lechner

Retired part-time singer and Rio Tinto lifer: Ron Lechner

Map of the road work that will be completed this summer. The streets highlighted in red are what the district planned on completing before additional funding, and the streets highlighted in orange is the road works that will be done with the additional funding. (District of Kitimat photo)
$1.1 million allocated for road work this year in Kitimat

Kitimat council has added $470,000 for more work by deferring four other projects.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Most Read