Investigators working to determine cause of barn fire owned by Island’s largest egg producer

Investigators working to determine cause of barn fire owned by Island's largest egg producer
WatchA fire on Sunday killed nearly 9,000 chickens at Vancouver Island's largest egg producer – Farmer Ben's Eggs in North Cowichan.

Fire investigators are still trying to find the cause of a massive and catastrophic fire that killed nearly 9,000 chickens on Sunday. It gutted the barn owned by Vancouver Island’s largest egg supplier – Farmer Ben’s Eggs.

The North Cowichan farm produces 25 million eggs per year and supplies customers from Victoria to Campbell River to Tofino.

They’re still grading eggs despite a devastating weekend fire.

“Obviously, it’s a hit,” said Jennifer Woike, one of the farm’s owners.

“There was a loss of life of animal life, which was hard to deal with as farmers. It’s a hit to our company. It’s about an eighth of our business production that went down.”

The fire broke out Sunday night in one of the farm’s chicken barns. By the time firefighter’s arrived it was fully involved.

“That was one of our first priorities when they arrived on scene was to ensure that the outbuildings that were close were protected and those exposures never ended up in danger,” said Martin Drakeley, North Cowichan’s Manager of Fire and Bylaw Services.

A flock of nearby free-run chickens were saved but all 8,800 hens, which had just been moved into the barn one week prior, died.

Investigators are trying to determine the cause.

“That investigation is currently ongoing. I believe insurance is on scene today so until it’s completely done we won’t be able to release any information,” said Drakeley.

Other B.C. farmers and the BC Egg Marketing Board are working to ensure Farmer Ben’s doesn’t lose egg production this year. Customers have also been asking what they can do.

“What our message back to them is the best way to support us is to continue to support us and continue to keep all these people employed,” said Woike.

It’s expected the damage will be covered by insurance.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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