Photo Source: LA Times
The negligent use of equipment and improper installation of electrical systems on cannabis farms caused four wildfires in Calaveras County between June 14 and July 11, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Cal Fire brought three of the fires under control quickly, limiting damage to minimum acreage and vegetation, according to Cal FIre Battalion Chief Matthew Gilbert.
The July 2 Appaloosa Fire, however, charred 310 acres on numerous properties.
Calaveras County Planning Director, Peter Maurer, discovered the Appaloosa Fire was caused by someone who applied to register with the county as a legal commercial cannabis grower during Cal Fire’s investigation.
Gilbert claims the cost to Cal Fire for fighting the four fires topped $1.4 million. Those identified as responsible for the fires were each issued citations.
“They were misdemeanor offences and will be submitted to the Calaveras County District Attorney’s office for prosecution. There is a potential for fines or jail time, or both, but that’s up to the DA,” he said.
The Mountain Ranch Road Fire, starting June 14, was due to an illegal burn. A citation was issued for burning sans permit. The Ranch Fire,caused by a power generator used to supply a marijuana operation in dry grass, burned just one acre and no properties on June 22
The Appaloosa Fire, which started on July 2, burned 310 acres of vegetation on numerous properties. Caused by illegal electrical wiring for a water source on a marijuana growing site, according to Cal Fire. The fire cost $1.3 million to suppress, and two firefighters were transported to a hospital for injuries sustained while battling the blaze.
Caused by electrical feed for a marijuana operations, the July 11 Shetland Fire burned two acres of vegetation.
The Shetland Fire started July 11, burned two acres of vegetation and was caused by electrical arcing from a breaker box. This electrical feed supplied a marijuana operation. The cost for suppression for the Shetland Fire is estimated to be $71,320.
“We have zero tolerance for negligently caused fire. We will seek criminal, civil and administrative actions against those who cause fires because of their irresponsible behavior,” said Cal Fire Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit Chief Josh White.