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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | West Valley / Piru

Honeybee Facility Destroyed in Fire

October 31, 2000|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT

A 4,000-square-foot honeybee farm owned for more than 20 years by a local couple burned down and wiped out a year's worth of honey production, authorities and the owners said Monday.

The blaze at Bennett's Honey Bee Farm at 3678 Piru Canyon Road started about 7:30 p.m. Sunday. When firefighters arrived, they found the couple's giant processing plant fully engulfed in flames, authorities said.

Damage was estimated at more than $400,000, said Joe Luna, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

"We've been there many, many years doing the same thing," said Red Bennett, who owns the business with his wife, Ann.

The processing plant, a single-story structure built in 1934, consisted of several smaller rooms constructed with brick, wood and metal. One room was partially spared, but there was extensive damage to several large containers of jarred honey.

Bennett said he lost 100 tons of honey in the fire but that the company has some of the product left in drums that were being stored at another warehouse. Bennett's honey is sold locally and throughout the West.

An official cause had not been determined as of late Monday, but county Fire Capt. John Spykerman said it appeared the blaze started near the front of the plant, closest to a separate business office that was spared.

Arson investigators on Monday were looking into possible electrical problems. It was raining when the fire started and things inside were damp, he said.

Neighbors of the Bennetts, who live just down the road from their farm, called authorities after spotting smoke and flames. Thirty firefighters responded, along with at least two water trucks, which were necessary because of a lack of water sources at the site, authorities said.

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