07/20/2012 04:45 EDT | Updated 09/19/2012 05:12 EDT

Six months after deadly blast, Burns Lake awaits decision on rebuilding sawmill

VICTORIA - It will be a few more weeks before the north-central B.C. Village of Burns Lake knows if its devastated sawmill is likely to be rebuilt.

Jobs Minister Pat Bell has updated the community's recovery since an explosion and fire on Jan. 20, levelled Babine Forest Products, the main employer in Burns Lake.

Bell says a special legislative committee is examining timber supply in the region, hard hit by the pine beetle infestation, and a report is due in mid-August.

Depending on the findings, Bell says sawmill owner Hampton Affiliates will decide if it can justify reopening the facility, which employed about 250 people before the blast.

Bell says various initiatives since the explosion have helped about half of the affected workers find new jobs, while tourism projects and a strengthened mining sector could also be keys to the survival of Burns Lake, if the mill is not rebuilt.

The explosion and fire at Babine Forest Products occurred exactly six months ago, killing two men and injuring 44.