PORTLAND, OR -- The Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake, British Columbia, that was destroyed by an explosion and fire in January will be rebuilt, according Hampton Affiliate officials.
The sawmill was a joint venture between the Burns Lake Native Development Corporation (BLNDC) and Hampton, and it was responsible for processing logs infested with the mountain pine beetle. The decision to rebuild the plant was contingent upon available lumber supply.
“The confirming decision made yesterday by the Hampton Board of Directors to rebuild the Babine sawmill is a reflection of its trust and confidence in our ability to supply the mill with logs based on the solid support of all six First Nations bands of the BLNDC,” said Steve Zika, Hampton’s CEO.
The new Babine sawmill will be smaller -- just two-thirds the size of the old mill due to reduced log availability. The mill is expected to open in early 2014.
At least two employees were killed and many others injured as a result of the explosion and fire. Although the origins of the fatal incident are still under investigation, published reports indicate prosecutors are considering charges. Prior to the tragedy high levels of wood dust were found at the plant.
Hampton Affiliates is family-owned and employs approximately 1,400 people in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. Hampton owns approximately 92, 000 acres of timberland.