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Former Ice Road Truckers cast member to be sentenced for causing explosion

A former cast member of the hugely popular TV series Ice Road Truckers is scheduled to be sentenced in Yellowknife Friday.

Arthur (Art) Burke pleaded guilty earlier this year to a rare charge of causing arson by negligence in connection to an explosion that occurred when he was trying to make a concentrated form of cannabis called shatter.

In a statement of agreed facts, Burke admitted that last Nov. 3 he was trying to produce the substance in the bathroom of a Yellowknife apartment.

The process requires a large amount of butane, a highly flammable liquid that turns into a gas at room temperature. The butane ignited, causing a powerful explosion that blew the bathroom door off its hinges, rattled neighbouring units and caused more than $60,000 damage to the 54th Street building.

Burke, 66, suffered burns to 40 per cent of his body putting out a fire in the bathroom caused by the explosion.

The Nova Scotia man spent 12 days in hospital recovering from his injuries.

At an earlier sentencing hearing the Crown prosecutor and Burke’s lawyer both suggested a sentence of 18 months of house arrest.

But the judge balked at their suggestion that Burke be allowed to serve some of the house arrest in the cab of his truck while working and asked the lawyers to provide more justification for that.

In a background report filed in the case, Burke said the explosion has cost him dearly.

“In one heartbeat everything I worked for vanished,” he said.

“I am going to lose all my savings for retirement.”

He told the probation officer who prepared the report not to talk to his wife, saying she is still devastated by the incident.

Burke, who now lives in Prince Edward Island, starred in Ice Road Truckers for its final five seasons.

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