A structure fire at Farmer Ben’s on Herd Road Sunday night called for crews from three fire departments to battle the blaze. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

A structure fire at Farmer Ben’s on Herd Road Sunday night called for crews from three fire departments to battle the blaze. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

UPDATE: Cowichan Valley egg farm cleaning up after devastating fire

Nearly 9,000 chickens killed in blaze at Farmer Ben’s

A major egg producer in the Cowichan Valley is cleaning up this week after a fire destroyed a barn at the company’s farm on Sunday night.

Nearly 9,000 hens were killed in the blaze at Farmer Ben’s Eggs, but fire crews were able to keep it from spreading to other structures.

The fire was first noticed around by a passerby, who happened to be a member of the Maple Bay Volunteer Fire Department, shortly after 9 p.m. By the time the first crews arrived at the scene, the barn was fully engulfed.

“Firefighters worked quickly to keep the fire from spreading to any other structures,” said Jen Woike, whose family owns and operates Farmer Ben’s. “The barn housed 8,800 layer hens and, unfortunately, we were unable to save them. As farmers we care deeply for our animals and losing them is devastating to us as a family.”

In addition to the Maple Bay fire department, crews also responded from Crofton and North Cowichan’s South End hall, while a truck from Chemainus stood by in Crofton. The RCMP were called to direct traffic, and had to block off Herd Road between Lakes and Osborne Bay roads for a period of time.

The Woikes expressed their gratitude to all the first responders who attended, as well as BC Hydro, Cycle Electric, and Mellor Mobile Mechanical, and the many friends and community members who reached out with kind words and offers to help.

“I cannot express on behalf of my family the thankfulness in the love and support we have been receiving all morning,” Woike said on Monday. We want to ensure that all of our customers and clients know that we are able to continue to provide you eggs for your business and restaurants. The best way to support us is to continue to purchase our eggs.”

Fire crews were on scene from just after 9 p.m. on Sunday until around 2 a.m. on Monday, then took nearly two hours to clean their equipment once they were back at their respective halls.

An investigation is underway by North Cowichan fire investigator Mike Dunn, who is also the station chief for Maple Bay and was on the scene in that capacity on Sunday night, but North Cowichan manager of fire and bylaw services Martin Drakeley wasn’t optimistic about finding out what caused the blaze.

“There is way too much damage,” Drakeley said. “The cause will probably remain undetermined because of the damage. That’s the nature of big fires.”

Agriculturecowichan valleyfire

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

A structure fire at Farmer Ben’s on Herd Road Sunday night called for crews from three fire departments to battle the blaze. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

A structure fire at Farmer Ben’s on Herd Road Sunday night called for crews from three fire departments to battle the blaze. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Just Posted

Starting in June, Government Street will be closed to most vehicles between Humboldt and View streets. A section of Government Street was transformed into a pedestrian-priority walkway in the wake of COVID-19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria plans 10-hour closures of Government Street come June

City’s business relief plan extended, Government St. from Humboldt to View closed noon to 10 p.m.

Cyclists cruised around Saanich at the 2017 Cycling Festival. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich scavenger hunt replaces annual Cycling Festival

Participants encouraged to ‘walk or roll’ to 20 secret sites, submit photo proof for prizes

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

A member of the Belmont Secondary School in Langford has tested positive for COVID-19, the Sooke School District announced Thursday afternoon. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Positive COVID-19 case identified at Belmont Secondary School in Langford

Other school members could’ve been exposed on April 20

This photo shows crews the fire at 7987 Galbraith Cres. that caused extensive damage and displaced six residents early Sunday morning. (Central Saanich Fire/Department Twitter)
Central Saanich rallies around couple who lost home of 25 years

A GoFundMe campaign is currently underway for Carla and Brian Wallace

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

The conservation service confirmed they do not relocate cougars from settled areas but that euthanasia is not necessarily the fate for an animal in the Fanny Bay area. The hope is that the animal will move on to wild areas. (File photo)
Woman hopes cat-stalking Fanny Bay cougar can avoid euthanization

Conservation officers do not relocate the animals from Vancouver Island

Tofino residents expressed frustration over a recent post by Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett that falsely claimed all residents have been vaccinated. (Westerly file photo)
Resort owner apologizes for suggesting Tofino is safe to travel to

Long Beach Lodge owner Tim Hackett apologizes to community and visitors

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Most Read