An early morning fire in Cedar, south of Nanaimo, has destroyed a marijuana grower.
Flames were spotted around 5:30 Saturday morning, at a property on Holden-Corso Road, and quickly ripped through three buildings.
Witness Mark Saunders was driving to work and was the first to call 911. His cellphone video shows flames causing hydro transformers to spark, before quickly growing into a roaring inferno that sent thick black smoke into the sky.
“[It] definitely escalated quickly,” he said.
North Cedar fire chief Percy Tipping said 18 firefighters from his department and the neighbouring Cranberry Fire Department responded, using more than 100,000 gallons of water and working into the early afternoon to extinguish hotspots from the intense flames.
He said the issues with power lines overhead made it difficult to fight blaze.
“The property is a commercial marijuana grow operation, so [there are] significant power feeds to these types of complexes, so when the fire impinged upon the power supplies, [there was] significant arcing and lines down,” he said.
“So we were unable to get real close to inititate any kind of effective fire attack. We used a monitor off the top of our truck for initial attack but unfortunately exposures to the other buildings were pretty close, so the fire did spread.”
But Tipping says weather conditions in the early morning hours helped stop flames from spreading beyond the buildings.
Tipping says the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
The company that owns the facility, Royal Green Acres Manufacturing, couldn’t be reached for comment. Its website says the company is in the final stages of review to become a licensed medical marijuana producer.
This is the second fire at a marijuana production site on Vancouver Island in less than a month. A licensed grow facility near Courtenay was destroyed July 25th, in a blaze which also killed several pets. The cause of that fire was determined to be electrical.