B.C. mills are quickly running out of wood

On Jan. 20, Burns Lake received national attention when a horrific explosion and ensuing inferno at the local sawmill killed two mill workers, and triggered the loss of 250 high-paying jobs.

But the town itself was wrestling with deep troubles well before then. The problems were evident years ago, when the forested slopes visible from the town centre turned a rusty red, as the then-epic mountain pine beetle infestation raced through B.C.’s Interior forests.

With an estimated one billion pine trees killed by the beetles and years of accelerated logging in response to the infestation, it was only time before logging companies ran short of trees. Few people in Burns Lake or elsewhere spoke about it, however, hoping against hope that their mill, in their town, would be among the last standing.