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

Surrey Food Bank boss Feezah Jaffer on Cheerios box

It’s part of a General Mills campaign honouring food bank heroes

Surrey history buff transcribes her way to a provincial award

‘It can be tedious work but it’s also very interesting,’ Diane Johnson says

Appeal court overturns Surrey sexual assault acquittal, orders new trial

Appeal court judge says Surrey court failed to consider evidence of ‘passive dishonesty’

Surrey’s Alan Clegg sits down for a socially-distanced chat about his life in Cloverdale over the years

Clegg chats about his time as a volunteer firefighter, 1962’s Typhoon Freda, and how he’s been holding up during COVID-19

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Trudeau to seek 10 days of paid sick leave for Canadian workers, says talks are ongoing

Paid sick leave is key to keeping COVID-19 spread under control, prime minister says

Snowbirds jets will not be leaving Kamloops, just yet

The Snowbirds have been in Kamloops since May 17 when a plane crashed killing Capt. Jennifer Casey

COVID-19 checkpoints ‘up to them,’ Bonnie Henry says of remote B.C. villages

Support local tourism economy, but only if you’re invited in

Vancouver Island hasn’t seen a new homegrown case of COVID-19 in two weeks

Island’s low and steady transmission rate chalked up to several factors

Eight people arrested in Victoria homeless camp after enforcement order issued

Those living in tents were given until May 20 to move indoors

Andrew Weaver says he was ready to defeat John Horgan government

Independent MLA blasts B.C. Greens over LNG opposition

Most Read

l -->