By Veronica Morgan
Northern California is on fire. Several fires are burning in the Emerald Triangle- the area of northern CA that grows the majority of California’s cannabis crops.
Most significant among the fires is the Rocky Fire in Lake County, which is now at about 100 square miles in size, and spreading fast through farms and ranches, many of which have substantial grows.
Despite the danger, some growers are ignoring evacuation orders, in order to protect their plants.
Mendocino and Humboldt Counties have been inundated with smaller fires, primarily caused by lightning strikes.
The Mendocino National Forest reports six small fires ranging from 1-100 acres each, and Humboldt County has more than 70 fires, totaling more than 3100 acres and only 20% contained.
Trinity County, also a part of the Emerald Triangle, had two large fires burning, but firefighter’s efforts have helped to contain them.
Large-scale marijuana grows re conducted in all four counties, but records have not been kept to determine just how many crops have been destroyed. One thing everyone agrees on is that pot prices are going to soar.
One grower, who wished to remain anonymous said, “The big raids lately have already put prices up. Now, we will not have the supply that normally comes in at harvest.” This grower said as many as 5000 acres, of the 62000 that have burned in the Rocky Fire, held thousands of plants. No estimates were available for the other three counties.
One CalFire firefighter remarked that 5000 acres is probably a small estimate, noting that approximately 1/3 of all evacuated residences had small (individual use) gardens. He joked about the fire line personnel getting light headed. More than 6100 homes have been evacuated, displacing more than 13,000 people. The fire continues to spread, making it difficult to project the total damage to the marijuana crop.
Some of the largest grows have equipment on hand, such as bulldozers, to effectively build a safe perimeter, but fire officials are saying this fire “does not behave like any fire (we) have seen.” The Rocky Fire has been posing many problems for first responders.
The Emerald Triangle produces crops year round, but this is the height of the growing season for outdoor grows.
Growers have thousands of dollars tied up in their crop, and are fearing all will be lost.
“It’s not like we can file an insurance claim,” a woman from the Lower Lake, CA area said. She reported losing approximately 225 maturing plants.