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October 28, 2017 5:22 am

Few Details, but New Theory in Lakeland Tragedy

Thursday, March 12, 2015 @ 3:59 AM

Prince George, B.C. – Maintenance Supervisor Jason Rustad doesn’t recall much about events prior to the explosion and fire that destroyed the Lakeland Mills April 23rd 2012.

Rustad has testified at the coroner’s Inquest into the deaths of Alan Little and Glenn Roche, that while he “typically” would escort the Fire Prevention Officer through the mill during a fire inspection, he doesn’t recall conversations he may have had with Captain Steve Feeney about fire code deficiencies.

Rustad testified he was not aware that having a Fire Safety Plan was a requirement of the Fire Code. He also testified that he believed someone in administration was developing such a plan when two subsequent re-inspections noted the plan had yet to be developed.

Even though letters to  the mill  specified the sections of the Fire Code  that were in violation and what was needed, Rustad said he did not  look  further into the  matter “I didn’t have a copy of the Fire Code.”

According to Rustad, he would “typically” discuss the fire code deficiencies with his superior Garth Turner, but testified he cannot recall any specifics of such a conversation.

According to previous testimony of Brian Primrose, there was a heated argument over who was responsible for clean up. Primrose was of the mind that it was the job of maintenance and testified Rustad argued it was Production’s responsibility. But Rustad says he has no recollection of such a discussion.

He also testified he can’t recall hearing about a fire incident which created a fireball ( January 19th, 2011) but then said he “may have talked about it to Bruce Germyn.”

About the only thing which he expressed any confidence at all, was that there was methane under the mill site. That some testing had been done, methane detected, and he advised that methane not be ruled out as a possible source of the initial blast.

He told the Coroner’s inquest that when preparing to build the new mill, and digging down to clear gravel, they pulled up all sorts of debris from what was a former landfill “Cars, purses, baby carriages, the bumper of a car, shiny , shiny chrome, just all bent up” were all items pulled to the surface.

Although not presented to the jury, a previous story on 250News detailed how the new mill was built with that methane in mind after numerous test holes had come back positive for methane the article states ” the new facility  is now surrounded  by  methane wells,   the  concrete slab is over a  ground venting system,  and the methane is pumped out and  allowed to dissipate.  Similar wells, pumps and dispersion systems will be added to the planer and kiln areas.”

The inquest continues.


This testimony really bothers me. No recollection of ANYTHING.???

How convenient to forget such important things when it come to this horrible incident. Some charges need to be brought to the owners and to work safe for botching the investigation. Work safe will be the scapegoat with nothing but a few recommendations.


I think when we talk about the possibility of Methane being involved in this tragedy, we should keep in mind that it was during this time that the City put in their Community Energy System. The piping for the system was run under the CN tracks to the North side of the yard and then (as far as I know) West to hook up with Lakeland. Could the piping have disturbed gas underground and somehow allowed it to leak into the mill?? Who knows? However it certainly should be looked at, as a possibility.

The CN Yards have been in the area for 100 years, and are contaminated with diesel, etc; The surrounding area was once some sort of dumping ground, and there were old mills in the area prior to Lakeland. So certainly there should be some concern.

It would be interesting to see if the mill in Burns Lake was built under similar circumstances.

Methane has been mentioned numerous times by other posters including myself..

I have no faith in any investigation work safe does or the owners do.. will be tainted…

I always thought Work Safe’s mandate is the following.

A) Enforce Regulations

B) Accident Prevention

C) Accident Investigation

What Work Safe got hammered for was the lack of procedure for

collecting evidence to be used in our legal system.

So now when we have a loss of life the scene will now be treated

as CRIME SCENE not an Accident Scene.

So the gathering of evidence will now follow the legal protocols.

Which will make all evidence gathered and statements given.

Useable in Court.

Have your rights read to you and if you like, your lawyer present.

Ah, the old “I do not recall” defense, a classic.


Money memory loss, the more money involved, the foggier the memory. What think I am off base….. wait for it…

I agree that Rustad’s testimony left a less than palatable taste.

Editor’s note:
This comment referenced a comment which has since been removed. This comment has been edited to remove that reference.

The main problem with any inquiry or court case is.. The more time drags on from the actual incident the more the facts get distorted.. I’m not saying Rustads testimony is invalid but there has been a huge time lapse between the explosion and the inquiry.. One other thing about the methane.. Weather or not methane was a factor it would be prudent for any industrial operation to test for explosive gas or oxygen deficient atmospheres on those merits alone. Not only is it prudent but a fiduciary duty and regulatory requirement..

An owner should be able to recall all pertinent conversations that they have with Worksafe, failure to do so is a failure on many levels. Since lives were lost this is a huge failure in so many levels it just appalls me.

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