Like the proverbial phoenix, Babine Forest Products is rising from the ashes to once again be an economic driver for those in the Burns Lake area.
The mill was entirely destroyed and the lives of two workers were lost when an explosion rocked the mill and the community on January 20, 2012. After two years and a significant investment, Babine Forest Products is producing lumber once more.
Hourly employees spent one month in the classroom and in mid-February began hands-on training with the new equipment. As of March, the mill was running a single shift with two operators at every station and supervisory assistance to help in the training and familiarization of the equipment. The planer also began operation in mid-March, with previous planer employees being called back.
Out in the yard, the first shipment of logs arrived in December and more significant deliveries have been arriving every day. A new material handler, which has been on site for several months, was joined by a second material handler that arrived in early March.
While there were up to 150 construction workers at Babine Forest Products during the rebuild, less than 40 remained in March to work on small components and previously constructed items that needed further attention. With equipment running and staff in place, the company is looking to a positive year ahead with the restart of the mill.
"We believe 2014 will be a safe and successful year for our B.C. operations and we are excited to start shipping lumber to customers," reads a statement from the company.