WorkSafeBC officials say they are still trying to determine the cause of fatal blast that leveled the Burns Lake sawmill in January, including what role sawdust may have had in the explosion that killed two mill workers and injured 19.
During an investigation update Wednesday, Roberta Ellis, vice-president of investigations, said sawdust samples have been sent to a lab in the U.S. for analysis, primarily to determine if the concentration of dust prior to the blast could have served as a fuel source.
Ellis added investigators are also looking at other possible fuel sources, including natural gas and propane, and are also looking at several possible ignition sources such as hot surfaces, electric arc from switches and motors.
“We are not looking at one single element in isolation,” Ellis said. “We are looking at all of these elements and we are looking at how they could have potentially caused this catastrophic event.”
The type of wood being milled prior to the incident is also being examined, amid growing speculation that the processing of beetle-kill wood and/or green wood, known to produce a fine, powdery sawdust has been responsible for a string of recent mill blasts.