Babine Forest Products files lawsuit in British Columbia Supreme Court against Toshiba International and two other companies, alleges Toshiba manufactured and supplied motor that ignited fire leading to fatal 2012 explosion at sawmill in Burns Lake

NANAIMO, British Columbia , January 22, 2014 () – The company at the centre of a deadly sawmill explosion in British Columbia is blaming Toshiba International Corp. for the blast that destroyed the mill and left two workers dead.

Babine Forest Products in Burns Lake, B.C., alleges that Toshiba manufactured and supplied the motor that sparked the fire leading to the explosion in January 2012.

In a B.C. Supreme Court statement of claim, Babine Forest Products alleges electrical arcing in a conveyor motor ignited combustible material, causing the blast.

The explosion killed workers Carl Charlie and Robert Luggi, and injured 20 others.

None of the allegations contained in the statement have been tested in court.

The lawsuit claims Toshiba, as well as two companies listed as ABC Company No. 1 and ABC Company No. 2, were negligent because they failed to manufacture the motor to a reasonable standard.

"The defendants, and each of them, breached the condition in that the motor was not reasonably fit for the purpose but contained faults and defects rendering it unfit," the court document said.

The lawsuit alleges the piece of equipment had faulty wiring, and other components of the motor made it susceptible to premature failure and/or ignition of nearby combustible material.

The statement of claim also alleges Toshiba, ABC Company No. 1 and ABC Company No. 2 did not inspect or test the motor, warn users of the risk of arcing, or control the quality of suppliers and sub-contractors that provided the parts.

Last week, WorkSafeBC released a nearly 90-page report that suggested the initial spark that led to the fatal sawmill fire likely occurred in the mill's basement, an area that was "known to be very dusty."

The motor believed to be at the centre of the lawsuit and a gear reducer that were enclosed by a guard sat in the basement area.

The safety agency's theory is that friction caused accumulated sawdust in the guard to smoulder. The report said the guard was oddly constructed, as the clearance space between it and the gear reducer was tighter than usual. The smouldering then turned into an open flame, said the report.

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