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Four Recent Fires Have One Common Cause

San Andreas, CA — Cal Fire points to marijuana grows as a common thread in the four fires that caused an estimate $1.5 million in suppression costs.

One of those blazes is the Appaloosa Fire that ripped through the Angels Camp area of Calaveras County. It scorched 310 acres and resulted in a property owner being cited. Cal Fire spokesperson Lindy Shoff states the official cause as, “Negligent use of equipment and improperly installed electrical systems on marijuana cultivation sites.” She adds, “Cal Fire Tuolumne Calaveras is neutral when it comes to marijuana cultivation. Our goal is to educate the public as these fires pose a significant threat to our communities.”

That determination confirms what Calaveras County Sheriff Rick Dibasillio told Clarke broadcasting Thursday in an exclusive interview where he acknowledged the dangers regarding electrical use for marijuana grows. Additionally, Unit Chief of CAL FIRE’s Tuolumne-Calaveras Unit Josh White maintains, “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.”

Cal Fire provided the information on the four fires below:

  • The Mountain Ranch Road Fire started on June 14, 2016, was contained to a large illegal debris pile, in preparation for marijuana cultivation. The responsible party was burning without a permit, during suspension. A citation was issued for violation of Public Resources Code 4423, burning without a permit. The cost for suppression is estimated to be $ 7,204.
  • The Ranch Fire started on June 22, 2016, burned one acre of vegetation and was caused by a power generator used to supply a marijuana operation located in dry grass. The generator did not have proper clearance around it. The cost to suppress the Ranch Fire is estimated to be $23,733.
  • The Shetland Fire started July 11, 2016, 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.
  • The Appaloosa Fire started on July 2, 2016, burned 310 acres of vegetation across multiple properties. The fire was caused by electrical wiring leading to a water source that supplied water to marijuana grow. The electrical wiring was not up to code. A citation was issued for violation of Health and Safety Code 13001, negligently causing a fire, and Public Resources Code Section 4422(b), allowing fire to spread to lands of another. Two firefighters were transported to the hospital for injuries sustained while fighting the fire. The cost for suppression on the Appaloosa Fire is estimated to be $1,304,407.