As numerous wildfires continue to burn across the state of California, they are causing major and potentially irreparable damage to cannabis farms. Sparked largely by lightning strikes and spread quickly by strong winds, the wildfires have spread throughout the forests in the San Francisco area, as well as in parts of Sierra Nevada and Southern California.
Because the fires are currently largely uncontained by firefighters, the harm to those who operate cannabis farms may worsen.
Sweet Creek Farm, a small, family-run farmstead in the hills of Sonoma County overlooking the Russian River Valley, is one of the operations whose crop has been damaged by the fires.
“There are a ton of farms that are located in the fire’s path. No one’s out of the woods yet. This is just starting,” said Keala Peterson of Sweet Creek Farm.
According to Peterson, Sweet Creek Farm lost approximately four-fifths of its cannabis crop on Wednesday. However, firefighters were able to save a portion of the family compound. Because the crop is uninsured, Peterson estimates that the family faces approximately $150,000 in losses.
“We’re guardedly optimistic that those (unburned plants) could come to term, but with smoke damage, if the bud has set enough, it’ll just be smoky marijuana, and nobody wants to smoke that,” Peterson said.
In an Instagram post, Sweet Creek Farm thanked the community for its ongoing support.
“We are overwhelmed with our losses but buoyed by the incredible outpouring of support, love and encouragement. Thank you to everyone for reaching out, we have read each word and it has been a salve for our spirits. This community has blown us away,” the company said.
When the flames put the family’s lodge at risk of being engulfed, Sweet Creek expressed its gratitude for both the firefighters battling the fires and Papa Arne, a local, retired firefighter who refused to evacuate and assisted in saving the structure.
“The heat and embers from the structure fire then put our ‘lodge’ in jeopardy. Making matters worse, was that there is a 300 gallon propane tank, freshly topped off, 50 ft from the burning house in between the remaining structure,” the company said. “Papa Arne and the fire crew took turns blasting the fence around the ticking time bomb, seeking shelter behind the fire truck when the heat was too much to endure. Our ‘lodge’ would be lost without the heroic efforts from our local firefighters and Papa Arne. We are eternally grateful.”
Remaining optimistic, Sweet Creek said that they have been fortunate enough to not have suffered a complete loss of the farm and homestead.
“We are unsure about the smoke taint, but we feel a certain amount of hope in having something left. Additionally, our hard infrastructure of the solar pump, rainwater catchment tanks, and feed lines all survived,” the company said. “This is a huge relief because all is not lost. 2020 will be a season for the books, and we have learned so much from this crazy experience. “
In its daily wildfire report for August 27, 2020, CAL FIRE stated:
“Since the lightning siege that started on Saturday, August 15, 2020, there have been nearly 14,000 lightning strikes. During this time-period, there have been more than 700 new wildfires, which have now burned over 1.35 million acres. The significant acreage burned makes the fires collectively larger than the State of Delaware. In this siege, there have been 7 reported fatalities and nearly 1,890 structures destroyed.”
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As the wildfires continue to progress we want to thank our firefighters, as well as the local, federal, and out of state firefighters, that are working tirelessly to battle these blazes. Their commitment to our mission of protecting the lives and property of the citizens of California will not waver, even when faced with these numerous, intense wildfires. #California #CALFIRE #Wildfires #Partners #Ready