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    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Metchosin Does Good

    Well done to the Metchosin Brothers!

    Motorist raises alarm on barn fire
    Owner praises volunteer firefighters who vented chip plant propane tanks before dousing blaze

    Bill Cleverley Times Colonist January 28, 2005

    CREDIT: Bruce Stotesbury, Times Colonist
    CHIP PLANT CHARRED: Ed Cooper loads debris into his truck from a barn fire early Thursday at his Sooke Road home. His smoked woodchip business burned to the ground in a fire made more difficult by the presence of propane tanks.

    Fire destroyed a Metchosin barn housing a wood smoker chip plant complete with propane tanks early Thursday morning -- burning it to the ground.

    Barn owner Ed Cooper was in bed in his home at 3760 Sooke Rd. when a passing motorist stopped to bang on his door to tell him about the fire.

    "I have no idea what happened," said Cooper, a Metchosin councillor. "It must have been a spark, I guess. The thing wasn't in use."

    A propane-fired kiln in the building had last been in operation Wednesday morning and shut off Wednesday afternoon, he said.

    "I always go and check around my place in the evening just to see that everything's fine. There was nothing going on that the naked eye could see. So that was that. So it was a rude awakening, someone beating on my door telling me my barn's on fire. As soon as I looked up, I could see: 'Yes, it's definitely on fire.'"

    Metchosin volunteer firefighters allowed the three large propane tanks to vent before knocking down the flames, said Cooper, who also lost a small outbuilding to fire but now has a new appreciation for the work the volunteers do.

    "The Metchosin Fire Department was very quick in arriving here. It took them no time at all and they certainly did a good job of knocking it down once the propane tanks settled out."

    He said he lost some chips in the outbuilding but his main shipment, a $10,000 order, was stored in a separate building and was untouched.

    He had no estimate of the damage and didn't know if his insurance would cover the loss.

    "I would imagine it would cost a couple of bucks to replace it," he said. "I'm certainly not going to lose any sleep over it because there's nothing I can do about it."

    A retired boilermaker, Cooper said he built the kiln with his son because the cost of buying one was too high -- $58,000.

    Cooper sells his Sooke Hills Smoker Chips worldwide, They are used in smoking fish or to add flavour to barbecues.

    The 75-year-old said the fire might cause him to shift gears.

    "I'm in good shape and I've always enjoyed good health and I've always worked, but I've been thinking lately what am I going to do with this business. I think it's about time I went in a different direction."

    He said he's been considering shifting into the cooking-board/plank business.

    "Maybe this was a message," he said.

    © Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005
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