Burns Lake Victims Demand Accountability as Crown Declines Charges

Family members of the victims, and those deceased, at the Burns Lake sawmill blast site almost two years ago have reacted furiously after hearing the recent announcement by the Crown, disclosing that there is very little or no chance of criminal or regulatory charges against the mill’s operators due to flawed investigation.

Those affected are looking for accountability and closure, and despite one of the largest probes in the history of WorkSafeBC, the agency allegedly fell short in several areas including failing to obtain search warrants and inform witnesses of their Charter rights. Consequently, B.C.’s criminal justice branch mentioned in an announcement made last week that it cannot secure convictions if it went to court. Sister of one of the victims deceased in the blast, Carl Charlie, Lucy Campbell alleged that hearing this news was like re-experiencing the events of Jan. 20, 2012. Referring to the inefficiencies found by Crown in WorkSafeBC’s investigation, she mentioned that “there’s no room for error when it takes my brother’s life.” She stated that “our family is disgusted, disheartened, heartbroken all over again.”

Later on, Justice Minister Suzanne Anton mentioned in a separate statement issued on Monday night that an independent probe of the Crown’s ruling on the WorkSafeBC probe is not a possibility. She alleged that the Crown had conducted a “thorough and careful” review of the matter. Mr. Charlie and his co-worker, Robert Luggi, were among the two killed in the blast, which also caused to fire, at the Babine Forest Products sawmill, along with 20 others injured.

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