North Cowichan Coun. Joyce Behnsen watched her house go up in flames on Thursday afternoon.
Behnsen was at home when the fire broke out in the house, located across Highway 18 from the Duncan Meadows Golf Course. She managed to get out unhurt. Her husband was working off the Island, and her daughter was at work in Duncan. A dog and a cat didn’t manage to escape in time.
The house was a complete loss, and had to be taken down with an excavator once the flames were extinguished. Most of the contents were destroyed as well.
“We found a couple of small artifacts we were able to save,” South End fire chief Scott Henning said. “Some pictures and paperwork.”
The flames also destroyed a garage, an RV, and at least one truck.
In addition to 28 firefighters from the South End hall, crews from Duncan and Sahtlam were called out for assistance. The fire took four and a half hours to put out. By the time crews arrived, the house was engulfed, and there was nothing they could do to save it.
“It wasn’t safe to enter,” Henning said. “There was not a lot of overhaul for us to do.”
The cause of the fire hadn’t been determined as of Monday afternoon, but Henning said it appeared to have started in the garage.
Behnsen could not be reached for comment. North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure confirmed on Monday that she was in good condition, but said he hadn’t spoken with her since the fire.
“I think we can all imagine that having lost all her possessions, she’s going through a tough time,” he said.
Lefebure said he didn’t expect the situation to have a long-term effect on Behsen’s service as a councillor.
“I know that she is resilient, and I don’t think this will change her dedication to the job,” he said. “I’m sure she will be back and operational as soon as she can be.”