No injuries reported after fire ignites ammunition in Chemainus, B.C.

No one was injured after a fire broke out at a building in Chemainus, B.C., on Thursday morning.

North Cowichan Fire Department Chief Martin Drakeley says crews arrived around 9:30 a.m. to find heavy smoke coming from the building.

The property is considered a commercial building, though some of the structure includes apartments and storage areas.

Everyone was able to exit the building safely before crews arrived, according to Drakeley.


Firefighters say the building contains what's believed to be a legal cannabis growing facility, though the fire department is still confirming that with bylaw services.

Meanwhile, a considerable amount of ammunition was being stored on the second floor of the building. Firefighters say they're not certain what type of ammunition it was.

"We did have a lot shells popping off in the last five minutes," said Drakeley. "So the heat is there and thankfully they're coming out of the roof."

"We are wary of it and trying to keep people back as far as we can," the fire chief added. "The black powder burns off and it doesn't come out with much force but there [are] projectiles."

Drakeley says five fire engines from North Cowichan and one ladder truck from Ladysmith responded to the call.

Firefighters had a hard time entering the building to extinguish the fire from the inside, says the fire chief.

"Quite a few walls, quite a few dead spaces, and the crews are having a difficult time with the heat and the smoke," he said.

"Every time we open a new door to make entry or to vent it changes again."

As of Thursday morning, it's unclear what started the fire. Drakeley says fire investigators are expected to arrive later in the day.

In the meantime, municipal staff are reviewing the scene for information about the building's electrical safety and bylaw compliance.