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

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ business committee is recommending busing for the Rutherford and Frank J. Ney elementary school area be retained. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo school trustees vote against cutting Rutherford-Frank J. Ney bus route

Staff report points to yearly transportation budget deficits

Nanaimo RCMP seek help in locating Shannon Lettington, 35. (Submitted photo)
Nanaimo RCMP searching for missing 35-year-old woman

Shannon Lettington, of Nanaimo, has not contacted her family since October

This month Christy Blom’s Springtime show is on display at Art 10 Gallery. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo painter welcomes spring with watercolour exhibition

Christy Blom presents month-long ‘Springtime’ show at Art 10 Gallery

Lucas Philp, senior fish culturist at Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery, packs up pipes and hoses used to transfer trout from the transport truck into lakes, shortly after releasing about 500 rainbow trout into Colliery Dam No. 3 lake Wednesday. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
There are fresh fish to catch in Nanaimo’s lakes

Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery released thousands of catchable-size rainbow trout this week

Protesters march on Nanaimo’s Commercial Street last September, calling for greater protection of B.C.’s old-growth forests. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: More old growth needs protecting

Public support for protecting old-growth forests is evident, says letter writer

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

Beef to the plow driver who completely soaked me in dirty slush at the bus stop at Fifth and Hillcrest. I could tell you were driving quite fast so I tried to back up as far as the snowbank would allow but you did not slow down. I am 68 and had to pick up a prescription and had no choice but to continue on soaking wet.
Beefs & Bouquets, March 3

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon speaks in the B.C. legislature, describing work underway to make a small business and tourism aid package less restrictive, Dec. 10, 2020. (Hansard TV)
B.C. extends deadline for tourism, small business COVID-19 grants

Business owners expect months more of lost revenues

Most Read