A growing number of residents and cannabis crops around the Santa Cruz Mountains are under threat due to a wildfire that broke out in the drought-ridden area on Monday afternoon. The spreading fire has already burned through over 2,250 acres of land, and has prompted local authorities to evacuate over 300 residents, a number of whom are dismayed cannabis growers worried for the livelihood of their crops.
The so-called Loma Fire has already destroyed two undisclosed structures, and at the moment, is being combatted by over 500 firefighters. As the flames have spread throughout the area’s dry brush and timber, a number of cannabis plants have become endangered. According to the Associated Press, the evacuated area is lined with marijuana growing operations, though the number of plants at risk remains unknown.
One grower in the area, Anthony Lopez, returned to his home despite the ongoing evacuation order, and was pleased to find dozens of his cannabis crops alive and well. Although most cannabis farmers are located north of San Francisco, a fair amount of cultivators have found remote locations throughout the mountainous region around Santa Cruz, which is where the current fire is raging.
The increasing number of wildfires in California have become one of the greatest threats to cannabis growers across the state, and some have lost their entire collection of crops, homes, and even their lives in these rampant fires. Though the number of wildfires hasn’t grown exponentially over the years, the amount of damage that they’ve inflicted has, mostly due to the ongoing drought that continues to plague California crops of all kind, cannabis or not.
Back in July, authorities rescued seven cannabis farmers who were trapped in Monterey County’s Soberanes Fire, which reportedly destroyed the entirety of their 900-plant operation. Although they were growing this cannabis illegally, all one million dollars worth of their cannabis was engulfed in flames, leaving no evidence to prosecute the farmers. There’s also the saddening case of James McCauley, a cannabis farmer who had his prized crops covered in a pink fire retardant while authorities were battling a fire in Northern California back in August.
The photo of McCauley weeping while looking at his destroyed cannabis crops has become a symbol for the immense loss and pain that farmers throughout California have felt due to these wildfires. Luckily for Lopez, who is in the midst of the ongoing Loma Fire, he has been able to harvest at least some of his crops before the fire potentially reaches them. At the end of day, cannabis is a risky business even without accounting for California wildfires, and thus, it’s important that the growing cannabis community come together and support those who had the misfortune of seeing their prized cannabis crops eviscerated by this uncontrollable force of nature.