Penticton marijuana grow op fire sparks bigger concern

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Penticton marijuana grow op fire sparks bigger concern
Penticton marijuana grow op fire sparks bigger concern – Jun 1, 2016

PENTICTON — When Penticton fire crews responded to a report of a structure fire Wednesday morning, they were prepared to extinguish a residential blaze. But the situation was more dangerous than they had expected because the homeowners on MacClaren Avenue had a licensed medical marijuana grow op.

“Our job is inherently dangerous when it comes to residential house fires, but when we walk into it thinking it is a standard home and we face entanglement problems, entrapment issues or electrical hazards that are just advancing that threat, it is very challenging for our firefighters,” said Fire Chief Larry Watkinson.

This recent fire was relatively small that caused some minor damages to the shed and cannabis.

Watkinson said the blaze was sparked by a lamp with an automatic timer that was left on the ground, igniting fuel around it.

Neighbour Karen Kletke said she didn’t know the people next door were growing medical marijuana, but said it didn’t worry her.

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“I don’t have an issue. I’m sure they’re taking safety measures. They’re really nice people, who are doing it the safest way that they can,” said Kletke.

An electrician called to the scene to inspect the shed told Global News the homeowners had the proper permits and the wiring was done correctly.

But from Watkinson’s experience, most grow-op owners do not have the right electrical work and firefighters often face a series of electrical hazards. This is why he believes fire officials should be notified of each grow op location.

“We are wanting to work with them if they’re willing to share that information with us,” he said. “We’d be happy to document so that when we do approach their homes, we do what is right for the homeowners and do what’s right for firefighters.”



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