PRINCE GEORGE, BC -- A dust explosion blew out a sheet metal wall at the Pacific BioEnergy plant Dec. 17, injuring no one but temporarily knocking production of wood pellets out of commission.

According to HQGeorge.com, the the fire accompanying the explosion was suppressed by the plant's sprinkler system.

Since the incident, the company has inspected all of its equipment and emergency systems in an attempt to not only determine what might have caused the explosion, but more importantly how to prevent one in the future.

Seventeen fire fighters responded to the Dec. 17 fire shortly before 7 p.m. Fire Chief Blake King said the fire appeared to result from a "dust explosion" detonated by an unknown spark.

HQGeorge.com said this was the third time in 32 months that fire fighters had been summoned to Pacific BioEnergy. No injuries were reported in either incident.

On March 31, 2008, the operation reportedly sustained a pair of simultaneous blasts, one that blew open the doors on the bag house, a filtration chamber outside the pellet plant, and another that blew out the main plant's metal wall, similar to what occurred on Dec. 17.

In August 2009, fire fighters responded to a fire in the hopper and piping. 

Pacific BioEnergy began operating in 1994. In December 2009, the company entered into a strategic partnership with Electrabel/GDF Suez, precipitating the company's $24 million expansion, meant to double production, scheduled for completion in June 2011.

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