News Local

WorkSafeBC to check burned mill's inspection records

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

WorkSafeBC is determining whether inspections were completed at a Lower Mainland wood mill that caught fire this weekend, after safety reviews were ordered in reaction to two fatal sawmill explosions this year.

Two phases of WorkSafeBC checks were to be implemented after of tiny particles of dried sawdust were found to have fed the flames that killed four people in the Burns Lake and Prince George fires in January and April, respectively.

In the first phase, all sawmills were inspected. The second phase, which extended to other "wood-processing operations," was ongoing.

It's unclear whether Waldun Forest Products, whose shake and shingle mill caught fire Sunday morning, was part of either phase.

Firefighters are still trying to track down the starting point of the flames.

"Origin of the fire is still under investigation and we are looking at all circumstances as to what could cause the fire," said Mark Smitton, Maple Ridge assistant fire chief, in an email to 24 hours.

"Wood sawdust will be looked at to see if it contributed to fire spread."

No employees were at the mill during the fire, apart from a lone watchman, he said. No one was injured.

WorkSafeBC sent an investigator to the scene Sunday morning at 9393 287th Street. The safety organization is expected Monday to seek any "inspection history" for the mill.

"If there's an inspection history that (will be) public information," spokeswoman Donna Freeman said.

"At this point it's a fire and the primary jurisdiction is the fire investigators."

An employee with Waldun reached Sunday declined comment.