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Mill explosion could have been prevented

An investigation into a fire and explosion that killed two men at a northern British Columbia sawmill two years ago found it was preventable, and suggested four charges for violations of worker safety regulations.

WorkSafeBC released its report today into the fire and explosion at Babine Forest Products mill in Burns Lake, after the Crown announced last week it would not pursue the charges in part due to a flawed investigation by the provincial agency.

The report says the investigation "generally applied" the principles set out by the National Fire Protection Association but the Crown said it left significant evidence inadmissible in court.

The January 2012 explosion and fire killed 45-year-old Robert Luggi and 42-year-old Carl Charlie, and injured 20 other workers.

WorkSafe director of investigations Jeff Dolan says the agency is considering its next steps, including possible administrative penalties against Babine.

Investigators found the company knew it had an inadequate dust collection system — even after an explosion and fire almost a year earlier — and did not adequately supervise clean-up and maintenance staff.

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