A popular organic farm in Aldergrove is temporarily closed, after a fire broke out on Tuesday morning.
Cathy Finley (pictured below), who owns Laurica Farm at 25775 12 Ave. with her husband, Ian, had plugged her cellphone inside the house to charge, then went out to the barn to tend to her animals.
Around 10:30 a.m., she came back to the house to find it engulfed in smoke and flames.
Finley, wearing an air cast from a previous foot injury, ran down the long country road to her neighbour’s house to call the fire department.
Fire crews quickly arrived and doused the flames before the entire house was destroyed.
There were no injuries to any of the people at the farm, nor to their many animals.
Investigators have determined it was a room and contents fire — started by the charging phone — which also caused extensive smoke damage throughout the home, Township Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Ferguson told the Times.
In all, between $10,000 and $15,000 in damage was done, and early estimates indicated the Finley’s would be able to move back into their home, Ferguson said.
The cellphone was not a Samsung Galaxy Note 7, which has recently been recalled for catching fire, Ferguson added.
However, according to a close family friend and farmhand, Laura McKecknie, the Finley’s will not be moving back into their home anytime soon. McKecknie said that the damage is quite extensive — potentially much more than $15,000 worth — and will most likely result in the home being demolished. This information was received after the Times’ press deadline.
In the meantime, Cathy, Ian, and their two daughters, Lauren and Jessica, who are 16 and nine, have been put up in a hotel.
McKecknie has also organized a GoFundMe Page for the Finleys and is taking phone calls on their behalf.
“We’ve had a great amount of community support already, so many people have been offering up things. They are at a point where everything is still kind of confusing,” McKecknie said.
“I think they are all still in a little bit of a state of shock.”
McKecknie is continuing to care for the animals at the farm — including cats, dogs, goats, ducks, chickens and pigs — and plans to organize a clothing drive soon.
“We have battened down the hatches at the farm today for the pending three storms on their way and cleared out the house as best we can,” McKecknie wrote in a Facebook post on the Laurica Farm page yesterday.
“Obviously this has been hard both emotionally and physically on all of us today but we will soldier on … Thanks again everyone for all of your support in this hard time.”
The Finleys moved to Canada from England in 2009, and started operating their permaculture farm three years ago. Over the summer they hosted many large farm events, including the 22nd annual Metro Vancouver Feast of Fields last month.
They were also recently nominated for a Small Business BC Award in the “Premier’s People’s Choice” category.
Anyone who wishes to help the Finley’s can do so online at https://www.gofundme.com/laurica-farm-fire-2ttxhas.