Firefighter Douglas gets hosed down after being inside the burning warehouse Tuesday afternoon. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Fire damages Vancouver Island medical marijuana facility

Cannabis operation goes up in smoke

Fire broke out at an industrial facility at the corner of Drinkwater Road and Highway 18 on Tuesday.

Thick smoke was seen billowing out of the Broken Coast Cannabis units of the multi-unit warehouse just before noon, confirmed Tamara Macgregor, a spokesperson for the company.

“The fire department was notified immediately and thankfully — and most importantly — no employees were harmed,” Macgregor said.

Martin Drakeley, the municipality’s manager of fire and bylaw services, said all told, five trucks and a crew of at least 24 firefighters spent roughly five hours at the site — the last hour or so was spent retrieving employees’ personal effects.

“We couldn’t allow any of the workers in the building due to the smoke concerns because it was quite toxic,” Drakeley explained. “So we had to have our firefighters go in and grab their personal belongings so that they could go home and that took the last hour, hour and a half.”

Drakeley said he was unsure as to the extent of the damage but did note it was extensive to one of the rooms.

“I believe it was a drying room,” he said. “Other than that it was just a little bit of smoke damage to the hallway just adjacent to it on the exterior of that room.”

RELATED STORY: North Cowichan looks to smaller pot operations

RELATED STORY: North Cowichan looks to update regulations on marijuana production

Toxicity concerns didn’t emerge until the firefighters started coming out of the building covered in a foreign material.

“They were coated in a black soot, which is unusual, especially the darkness of it,” Drakeley said. “They have a protective barrier on the wall when they are doing the drying and it doesn’t allow the moisture, I believe, to get behind it and when it burns obviously it wasn’t hot enough to do complete combustion and there was a lot of unburnt products of combustion that were in the room so once we saw them coming out and they were dark with all the soot, we knew we had some kind of special product in there.”

The fire department is trying to obtain the identity of the product so they can follow up with WHMIS guidelines to clean their gear properly.

Macgregor didn’t know how the fire started or when employees would be back to work.

“Health Canada has been advised and we will work closely with them on next steps, as well as with local authorities to determine the cause of the fire and assess damage once the building is deemed safe for re-entry,” Macgregor said.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Slideshow: Hope’s winter weather in photos

Readers submit photos of Hope under a blanket of snow

Borrow $8 billion for Fraser Valley rail link, Abbotsford mayor urges province

Henry Braun urges province to borrow billions to connect Abbotsford & Chilliwack to Metro Vancouver

Vandals destroy sign at Hope Legion

Sign found to have fire damage and missing letters Tuesday morning

Upper Fraser RCMP joins Twitter

Twitter feed once limited to Chilliwack expands

Three concerts in two weeks at Bozzini’s Upstairs Lounge in Chilliwack

Jon Brooks and Lynne Hanson are up first, followed by WiL and then Dan Bern for February concerts

Four things ‘not’ to do if you run into Prince Harry and Meghan in B.C.

Here is a list of some things you definitely should NOT do, according to the BBC

B.C.-based Coulson Aviation C-130 crashes in Australia

Three people are confirmed dead in the crash in New South Wales

New nasal spray launched in Canada to combat hypoglycemic shock in diabetics

Baqsimi is a nasal spray contains three milligrams of glucagon

B.C. RCMP spent roughly $750K on massive manhunt for Port Alberni men

Manitoba RCMP helped with 17-day search through the province’s northern terrain

Much-raided Langley animal rescue society loses registered charitable status

Revoked following an audit by Canada Revenue Agency, records show

Future space homes could be made of mushrooms

NASA explores use of fungi to build structures in space

Youth hit with gun butt during fight at Lower Mainland mall

RCMP are investigating the fight between two groups of youths

Weather warning: 80 mm of rain expected overnight in Metro Vancouver

Environment Canada is urging caution when driving

Most Read