With the arrival of recreational marijuana legalization, one Rosedale resident hopes incidents like the potentially dangerous grow-op fire next to her house on Tuesday will become more infrequent.
At noon on Oct. 30 firefighters from five Chilliwack firehalls responded to reports of a barn fire in the 51000-block of Holt Road.
“The barn was heavily fortified and had been converted into a grow op,” according to a Chilliwack Fire Department press release.
Upon arrival at the fire, crews set up what’s known as a defensive attack to prevent the fire from spreading, in this case to an adjacent home that is under construction.
An excavator was brought in to assist fire crews with the overhaul and extinguishment, but the barn was completely destroyed.
Neighbour Terisha Mitchell said she and family members have been concerned about the supposedly legal marijuana growing so close to their home and outbuildings for a long time.
“I live next door and we have worried about the safety of what seems like a very small, unregulated operation,” Mitchell told The Progress as the firefighters were on the scene dealing with the blaze.
|Smoke from the fire in a marijuana grow-op in a barn in Rosedale Tuesday was visible from kilometres away. (Paul henderson/ The Progress)|
The fire was contained to the one building but the smoke was visible from the location near Highway 1 from several kilometres away.
The grow-op in question was apparently a legal medical marijuana operation. There are hundreds of such grows in Chilliwack, a smaller number of which are multiple licences growing in one location. Some come with suspicions from neighbours and claims that some of those growing cannabis for medical purposes are growing considerably more than allowed, product that is sold on the black market.
Mitchell said she hopes that with legalization of recreational cannabis will come the desired drop in demand in the black market, which could help all growing be done safer.
“I’m glad marijuana is finally legalized because I look forward to professionals producing a safe product and under conditions that are safe for the community,” she said.
One of the stated goals of the federal government’s move to legalize cannabis was to reduce criminal activity.
“It would be nice to see the process of home growing turned upside down,” Mitchell said. “For example, the city lists the requirements for a safe home grow and then the person with a licence builds to code and gets inspected before being allowed to grow. Perfect world I guess.”
Mitchell said she optimistically hopes with legalization will come both safer growing arrangements, but also safer product since it is for human consumption.
As for Tuesday’s fire, Mitchell is just happy it didn’t happen in the summer when tinder dry conditions could have certainly made it more dangerous for her family.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Chilliwack Fire Department and RCMP.