At approximately 9 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 the Lake Cowichan RCMP, Lake Cowichan Fire Department as well as B.C. Ambulance Services were called out to a fully involved structure fire at the Mountain Man Services building at 52 South Shore Road, behind the Post Office in downtown Lake Cowichan.
Witnesses say that they could see the flames and hear the crackling of the fire from Lamb’s Hill (River Road).
The building was fully engulfed in flames when the fire department arrived. There were four fire trucks and 23 firefighters on the scene for over two hours.
“A structure like this is a high fuel load building as it contains numerous flammable materials.” says LCFD Fire Chief Doug Knott.
The main workshop sustained heavy damage with extensive fire damage to the attached structures as well.
BC Hydro were also called out to deactivate a live fallen power line which lead to the workshop. There were no injuries reported although one fireman was taken to the hospital with smoke inhalation but has since been released.
Denis Pilon, owner of Mountain Man Services, says that the buildings are a complete write off and were not insured. “I have every intention of rebuilding the business . . . even if it means completing the job one stick of wood at a time,” says an emotional Pilon.
“I worry about my employees who now have no job for the foreseeable future. “ he added.
He says he employed a number of young kids, who, for some of them, this was their first real job. He says that he enjoyed being a mentor to these kids and was happy to look out for them even after the clock stopped.
Pilon won’t be able to hire any of the young workers back for at least six months but is optimistic and taking a positive attitude about the situation.
“Everything can be rebuilt. The best insurance I have is the people of this community and valley, who I know will help me through this difficult time.” says Pilon.
He noted that there is one job that needs to be completed and he is ready to pull out the extension cords and a skill saw to get that job done.
One of the items that can’t be replaced is his classic Harley Davidson motorcycle that was also burned in the fire. Staring at the remains of his cherished bike, he reminisced about being able to go on a little vacation every time he started it up and went for a ride. The insurance on the bike had expired only days earlier.
Knott would like to remind the public to stay clear of incidents like this as they had some trouble getting both fire trucks close to the fire because of the amount of people crowding into the area.
The cause of the fire is currently under investigation. If any witnesses have information to assist in this investigation they are asked to contact the Lake Cowichan RCMP at 250-749-6668.