INCREDIBLE VIDEO: Devastating Comox Valley barn fire at licensed marijuana grow op kills family pets trapped inside. But as Tess van Straaten tells us, it could have been much worse.
A raging inferno engulfed a Comox Valley barn early Monday morning, as fire crews desperately battled the out-of-control blaze.
“When we arrived it was burning from one end to the other,”says Deputy Chief Kurt MacDonald of the Courtenay Fire Department. “Fortunately, everybody was out by the time we arrived.”
The 911 call came in around 11:30 pm Sunday, after a Campbell River man driving by the barn on Coleman Road in a rural area north of Courtenay saw flames.
From a distance, he first thought it was a backyard burn but quickly realized something was terribly wrong.
“I slowed down and I saw the flames were a lot higher than anything like that should be and they were really close to the side of a building so I stopped and called 911,” David Malinski told CHEK News.
With fireballs shooting out of the barn, Malinski feared the farmhouse could also be at risk so he took matters into his own hands before fire crews arrived.
“I saw the fire was progressing a whole lot faster than I thought it was at first so I decided to drive up the driveway, honk my horn a bunch of times to wake up somebody,” says Malinski. “I had a feeling there was someone in the house.”
Fortunately, the home was far enough away and the woman inside made it out safely.
Dogs and cats perish in massive barn fire
But family pets in the barn — two dogs and several cats — weren’t so lucky and perished in the blaze.
The fire fight lasted several hours, as heavy smoke billowed from the barn.
“We’re in an area that doesn’t have any fire hydrants so we’re relying on a tanker shuttle and mutual aid from Oyster River to help us extinguish this fire,” Deputy Chief MacDonald explains.
Fire crews stopped the massive blaze from spreading to out-buildings and when it was finally at the mop-up stage, they found marijuana plants inside the charred remains but officials say it was a licensed grow-up.
“We have had a report that this is a legal grow op but whether it had anything to do with the fire we don’t know at this time,” says Deputy Chief MacDonald.
Fire investigators say the cause of the devastating blaze was an electrical failure.
It caused more than $150,000 in damage and officials say the owner wasn’t insured.