Big Sur Wildfire Smokes Out Illegal Pot Growers

Wildfire rages out of control. Did pot smoking growers start this fire?

Illegal Pot Growers Claim to be Hikers When Rescued in Big Sur

It may not be making the national news, but on local TV news  in California, we learn that firemen discovered illegal pot growers amongst those individuals they rescued from the fiery inferno. See KSBW News report “Hikers” Rescued from Soberanes Fire were Illegal Pot Growers. Officials suspect as many as eleven rescued people were actually involved in a 900 plant marijuana farm. The marijuana growers culpability in starting the fire at this point is unknown, and subject to further investigation.

The fire is raging out of control and fire authorities expect it to burn all through the month of August. Five thousand fireman are working the blaze, which has consumed over 57 homes and more than 33,000 acres. It is now spreading into the Los Padres National Forest according to The Mercury News.

Careless smokers are often the start of such forest fires. If these growers were smoking their product or burning their trash, they very well could have started the fire.

This fire is just one of the many examples of the carelessness of our politicians who are pushing to turn this illicit drug into a big industry. The legalizers often use the argument that legal weed will end illegal activities surrounding the drug. We know from stories out of Colorado, Washington and Oregon that legal marijuana attracts more illegal activity. Each of these states is seeing an increase in  illegal drug activities, both growing and sales. Here is a recent example of an illegal grow operation in Oregon in the Statesman Journal.

Illegal growers destroy the forest floor and tribal lands to plant their ‘crops’, they use toxic chemicals, poison animals and leave unbelievable piles of trash. NBC Bay Area news investigated the environmental damage. The Pacific Fisher is a mammal at risk for extinction, and in this news report 6 of the remaining 300 in Northern California have died, and 86% of those researchers have tested, are found to be exposed to the illegal rat poison used on this marijuana. Just think of what this potent poison could do to the human health of those who smoke this illegally grown drug.

Watch the Video on Environmental Impact of Illegal Marijuana Grows

It is also increasing fire hazards, such as the hash oil explosions. The most recent case was in Nederland, Colorado, and took place in a rented house with an absentee landlord. See the TV news report from a Denver station: Hash Oil Explosion Causes Large House Fire. If wind conditions were favorable, the report says a wildfire could have easily erupted, causing more property loss and forest fire. See Parents Opposed to Pot series of articles on Hash Oil Explosions to learn more about this negative consequence of legalizing marijuana.


11 thoughts on “Big Sur Wildfire Smokes Out Illegal Pot Growers”

  1. Nice catch! The illegal campfire that started this horrid blaze now shows us it was man made. Whether or not it can be attributed to illegal marijuana farms there remains to be seen. But we know there is much marijuana cultivation in that area, in numerous locales, so it stands to reason a potential suspect in this case could have been one of those pot farmers. I will hold my tongue, but my suspicions are rising! Could have been by some simply pleasure hiking in that area. Maybe so, maybe not.

  2. This whole article was written off a stupid rant-check your facts and don’t ever assume cause you know what that makes.

    “Investigators have ruled out the hikers as potential suspects. They also ruled out the two groups of illegal marijuana growers who were rescued last week. The growers, who told deputies that they were “hikers” and got “lost,” were too far away from the wildfire’s origin to be considered suspects, investigators said.”

  3. Another environmental consideration about the Soberanes wildfire is that area is habitat for the endangered California Condor. Thus far it appears fortunately that the condors are not being harmed.

    The California condor project is a huge, costly and successful undertaking to restore and endangered species. So much has been put into this amazing project. We are blessed to save this species.

    However, this fire episode does go to show how the environmental consequences of a careless campfire can potentially be far reaching.

  4. I’ve already seen one commentary claiming that marijuana legalization, through “regulating and taxing” , would eliminate the illegal grow operations on public lands. However, (correct me if I am wrong), illegal grow operations in Colorado actually increased after legalization. And I think that is because legalization became the “green light” for increasing all marijuana activities.

    Last I looked the Soberanes Fire is nearing a hundred thousand acres. Considering the campfire that started it was illegal, and considering the numerous illegal grow operations in that area (please see the news articles), I’d say that in all likelihood this fire was caused by illegal pot growers. It just seems unlikely that some careless, recreational hikers would just happen to be in that area among all the illegal pot farms, and that in the middle of the summer when temps are the highest, they would start an illegal campfire there instead of a designated campground, if permitted at all.

    We might never get to the bottom of this, though I would think many pot consumers in that area might feel a bit guilty. I mean after all, the Big Sur Wilderness region is one of the most highly prized natural wonders of the world. Basic regrowth of greenery might take a generation, but repeating the biological maturation of that ecosystem could take many centuries, if ever.

  5. Excuse me! I should have re-read your article before posting because I am repeating. Nonetheless I concur, and it is not out of some moral rectitude or anti-pot agenda. I truly do respect and appreciate nature and what God has given us. I love Big Sur and am in awe whenever I go there. I feel such a tremendous loss like I’m sure many others do.

    Mankind won the ‘War Against Nature’ long ago. We’re the conquerors. It’s a real shame that we continue to destroy out of wanton carelessness.

  6. Thanks Sizko for chiming in with an opinion! Yes, we can not verifiably say illegal pot grow operations contributed to the Soberanes fire. Then again, we can’t rule it out.

    But note, there have been several other National Forest fires elsewhere that have been verified to have been started by illegal pot growers. So to start, it is not an unreasonable assumption. And we do know that area around Big Sur, including Garrapata State Park, is notorious for numerous illegal pot farms. (I am not sure where all that marijuana goes, if it stays locally to say Monterey and Santa Cruz, etc. or if it is distributed nationally?) Not only are the illegal operators depleting the natural water supply in those areas, they also pose fire hazards by their mere presence, and that may include their hot water heaters, stoves, campfires, etc. for operating the illegal grow areas.

    And, we must consider the logic of this. A hiker or group of responsible recreational hikers would very likely be carrying camp stoves and be planning their cooking activities in designated campgrounds if legal. The general ethos of hikers and wilderness explorers is respect for the environment, so I imagine most would be naturally conscientious of the rules and regulations and not risk destroying the natural areas they so love. Plus they would also likely be obeying Park regulations anyway and be paying attention to the no fire ordinance in effect. Besides, why would any legitimate recreational hiker want to start an illegal campfire at (I think it was 9:30 in the morning) away from a designated campground and in the height of the dry season with fire restrictions?

    Plus considering that there are dozens if not hundreds of individuals operating illegal marijuana grows in that Big Sur wilderness region, any one of them could have started the fire, not just the dozen or so you mentioned. Plus the very nature of their activity is illegal, so why would they be concerned about an illegal campfire anyway? Plus, the illegal grow operators function on the sly anyway, so they are more inclined to start fires AWAY from designated campgrounds where fires would be safer.

    So I can not say unequivocally the Soberanes Fire was started by illegal pot growers, but I can say with confidence there is a very high probability it was, all variables considered.

  7. Above, I stated: “Plus, the illegal grow operators function on the sly anyway, so they are more inclined to start fires AWAY from designated campgrounds where fires would be safer.”

    Obviously this should be ” …more inclined to start fires AWAY from designated campgrounds where fires would NOT be safer.”

    The reasoning, if not obvious, is that illegal pot growers would likely not be frequenting designated campgrounds. And I think they would likely be camping illegally a bit of hiking distance from their pot growing operations. That way if they are approached by law enforcement, there will be no obvious connection to their grow operations to accuse them of anything. Otherwise, if they camped right at their grow operations, a surprise visit by law enforcement would be incriminating evidence.

    So they likely camp illegally at night a bit of distance from the marijuana grow operations (where it’s ‘safer’ from being arrested). If they are surprise ‘caught’, there is nothing to link them to the crimes. They can just say they were pleasure hiking and camping, just like the group of pot farmers who were rescued from the Soberanes fire. They denied it at first, then finally admitted guilt.

    Then in the day time, when the coast is clear, the campers who likely set the Soberanes fire (in my opinion) head over to their illegal grow operations and resume activity.

    Does my ‘judicious guessing’ make sense to anyone, or am I am being unnecessarily unreasonable?

  8. I just posted a few comments on a news website regarding marijuana legalization in southern California and a proposal for a grow operation in the desert there. The negatives for my posts were alarming. The obvious is how ludicrous this proposed project is considering it is the desert after all. And it’s not like California is overflowing with water at the moment- in fact it’s a severe drought. Plus pot cultivation consumes exorbitant amounts of water- about 900 gallons for one mature plant, for a production of one pound of marijuana. Where ARE our priorities?

    I also pointed out how the Soberanes fire may have been the work of illegal pot farmers, and that received much vitriol and negatives.

    But the most alarming negative response was my simply posting the facts of the marijuana connection to 911. The anger was instantaneous. All I said was those 911 perpetrators were observed to have used marijuana in Hamburg, Germany, and I suggested that pot may have played an adverse role in their plans for the terrorist attack, perhaps by focusing and amplifying their hate for the West. That terrorist act in turn inspired a couple of wars, cost trillions of dollars, killed hundreds of thousands of people, and disrupted our entire way of life.

    One would think most would at least ponder and reflect upon the implications I presented, yet it appears the knee-jerk reaction was mere anger and protection of their cherished drug at ALL costs. There were a few positives, but the negatives to the post soared instantly.

    This is quite scary because what we may be looking at across America as well as many European nations is not merely a new consumer choice (ie pot versus cigarettes or alcohol), but a mind-altering drug that actually takes over the brain’s thought processes so that the brain re-wires favorably for the drug.

    I mean, how else can we explain this complete dedication and loyalty to a drug? These folks must be somehow intrinsically ‘enlightened’ by the so called wonders of marijuana to such a profound degree that nothing else matters- as though they love and worship this plant.

    If the pot movement intentionally ignores the link between abuse and mental illness and sometimes violent outcomes, that’s bad enough. And to resist even reasonable discussion about the role marijuana may played on the minds of the 911 perpetrators is even more alarming. What if there were a nuclear bomb exploded by a terrorist (heaven forbid) whose mind was corrupted and adversely affected by marijuana abuse? Would the pot lovers still ignore the potential harms?

    I don’t know how pervasive this is, how much it is growing, if is overcoming us, or what our future holds, but in my opinion there is something deeply disturbing about the marijuana movement.

  9. Thank you. Hitchens is sharp. And to his credit, he does not proclaim to have special insight; i.e. he simply inquires and makes astute observations. It is a strange correlation indeed.

    Regarding wildfires, the recent Loma Fire in the Santa Cruz mountains might also have been caused by marijuana cultivation:
    “Pot Grow Investigated As Source Of Loma Fire”

    So California is in a record drought. Temperatures in that region of the country recently were in the upper 90’s, plus marijuana cultivation uses a ton of water. There are legal grows and illegal grows there too. One might ask, “Well okay, marijuana for ‘medicinal purposes’ was legalized, and wasn’t one of the reasons in doing so was to move the operations out of the shadows into legitimate businesses that could be observed and regulated?”

    Gee whiz, the illegal operations continue regardless.

    Yet we need to wait for investigation to ascertain if this fire was caused by marijuana cultivation (legal or illegal) or by another cause.

  10. I don’t know if any scientists have done the math, but for those concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and conservation, wildfires emit tremendous amounts! I imagine a surprising quantity of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from wildfires might be offsetting to a considerably high percentage of everything California has done in recent years to reduce greenhouse gases. Ironically!

    A reasonable, albeit ballpark estimate is that conservation efforts in California average around 6 megatons of emissions per year. Yet wildfires, depending on the kind of material burned, and how much underlying carbon there is in the ground that gets burned also, studies suggest emissions from wildfires run to about 4 tons of emissions per acre.

    So take a typical California wildfire like the La Brea, or the Soberanes, about 90, 000 and 125, 000 acres respectively, the GHG emissions in toto might run say up close to a megaton.
    And that would be a big chunk of all the conservation efforts being made in California!

    Now there is a high likelihood that both of those fires, as well as others, were started by illegal marijuana growing operations. Those fires typically start from campfires, or butane stoves, or whatever else may be used in the operations.

    So basically, I think our society needs a dose of reality and at least recognize that illegal marijuana cultivation and the fires that often ensue, affect not just those regions, but the WHOLE planet, assuming anthropogenic warming truly exists. (Which I think it does, that is the science is sound, though the consequences are likely being exaggerated for political purposes.)

    I await anxiously for a scientific whiz to offer some concrete data. How much GHGs does California save in terms of conservation efforts, and how much GHGs are being emitted from wildfires in California?

    Must I illustrate the absurdity? Well sure, why not. So much of society is scaling back on emissions, taking tremendous strides at conservation, while enduring financial burdens to do so- all for reducing our individual carbon footprints. We are encouraged to do so from the President on down, from focus groups and our general conscience about the environment and our planet.

    Yet on the other hand, marijuana gets a free pass, as it ALWAYS does. People ignore the consequences, what harms it does, and simply look the other way and think how ‘beautiful’ it is. Meanwhile, despite the legalization of medical marijuana cultivation in California (with licensing), illegal grow operations continue anyway, very often on OUR public lands where they have no business being.

    And to top it off, sometimes those illegal marijuana grow operations start wildfires, which in turn kill people, burn homes, cost the State hundreds of millions of dollars, destroy pristine wilderness (until it rejuvenates, which could take decades or even centuries depending how much destruction was done to the substrate), and on top of all that, emit tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    Is marijuana truly so wonderful that we can simply ignore the social, financial and environmental costs?

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