Friday night provided the worst of nightmares for families in Burns Lake, a massive fire and explosion at the Babine Lake Forest Products operations, sent more than half the workforce of 30 on duty to various hospitals around the province and left two members of the workforce still listed as missing by the weekends end.
The fire which lit up the night sky in the region started in the early evening, quickly spreading to many parts of the sprawling industrial area, a complex that was the key industrial employer of the region.
Emergency services were called in from as far as Vanderhoof and Smithers as fire, rescue and ambulance resources tried to cope with the overwhelming number of badly injured workers, at one point Northern Health had issued a Code Orange for the region.
Efforts were hampered by poor weather conditions as a blizzard at the time made roads east and west of the community treacherous, adding to the travel time required to get the injured to hospitals in communities along Highway 16 as far as Prince George.
The search for the two remaining missing men is on hold while authorities wait for the site to stabilize before entering into it for a rescue or recovery effort, likewise any investigation into the cause of the blast will have to wait until the area is safe to enter.
The scenes of chaos and horror that Friday night brought have been recounted by those that escaped the mill as the fire quickly spread, the account of events has been reported both in local media and across Canada, some of those reports can be found below.
Regional News items
Lakes District News-- Premier offers Burns Lake words of hope, strength and faith
Lakes District News-- 'Chaos reigned supreme' at Burns Lake mill explosion
Lakes District News-- Explosion at Babine Forest Products
Lakes District News-- Support centre opened at Margaret Patrick Memorial Hall
Lakes District News-- Babine secured
Opinion 250-- Officials wait for clearance to investigate Mill Disaster
Opinion 250-- Burns Lake Community Meeting Tonight
Opinion 250-- Our Prayers Go Out to The People of Burns Lake
Opinion 250-- Union Rallies to Assist Burns Lake Workers and their Families
Opinion 250-- Three More Burns Lake Victims Leave Hospital, Two Missing Identified
Opinion 250-- Premier Visits Burns Lake
Opinion 250-- Burns Lake Mill Site Too Unstable To Search for Missing Workers
Opinion 250-- RCMP Head Mill Investigation As Fire Victims Fight for their Lives
Opinion 250-- Worksafe Prepares to Probe Mill Remains as Residents Rally
Opinion 250-- Two Confirmed Missing in Wake of Sawmill Blast and Fire
Opinion 250-- Premier Clark Addresses Babine FP Disaster
Opinion 250-- Search Continues For Missing Mill Workers
Opinion 250-- Number of Missing Uncertain in Babine FP Blast
Opinion 250-- Six Ambulances Arrive at PG's University Hospital with Victims from Babine Forest blast
Opinion 250-- Almost 30 injured in Burns Lake Mill Blast
Opinion 250-- Burns Lake Mayor Calls for Community to Pull Together
Opinion 250-- Burns Lake Explosion... Three Believed Missing
Opinion 250-- Northern Health Mobilizes Resources to Deal With Burns Lake Disaster
Opinion 250-- Explosion Rocks Burns Lake Babine Forest Products Mill
CFTK-- Community Rallies in Aftermath of Sawmill Explosion in Burns Lake
CFTK-- Two Missing, 19 injured in Sawmill Explosion inn Burns Lake
National News Items
Vancouver Province-- Burns Lake prays for a miracle
Vancouver Province-- Repercussions to rattle region
Vancouver Province-- Burns Lake will never be the same
Vancouver Province-- Three sawmill workers in Burns Lake blast flown to Vancouver
Vancouver Province-- Burns Lake lumber mill employee claims 'nothing was done' about gas leak reports
Vancouver Province-- Son of Burns Lake elder missing in lumber mill blast
Vancouver Province-- 19 injured, 2 missing in mill fire
Vancouver Province-- Lights went out... everything went orange'
Vancouver Province-- Blast and fire at lumber mill near Burns Lake (photos)
Vancouver Sun-- Two workers missing, 19 injured after Burns Lake mill explosion (with video)
Vancouver Sun-- Mill workers heard desperate pleas of 'save us' over radio
Vancouver Sun-- Witness says Burns Lake sawmill explosion could have been prevented
Globe and Mail-- Sawmill fire tears the heart from B. C. village
Globe and Mail-- "Everything was burning" worker says after B. C. Sawmill explosion
Globe and Mail-- Town faces big loss after sawmill explosion
Globe and Mail-- Two B. C. mill workers unaccounted for
National Post-- B. C. Mill explosion near Burns Lake leaves 19 injured, many unaccounted for
CBC News-- Missing workers in B.C. mill blast ID'd
CBC News-- 2 missing after B. C. Mill explosion