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Recent Marijuana Grow Facility Fires Have Common Thread

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Electrical housing outside a warehouse with a marijuana grow operation (credit: CBS)

Electrical housing outside a warehouse with a marijuana grow operation (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – Firefighters in Denver say they’re worried after three fires at medical marijuana grow facilities in recent days.

It takes a lot of electricity to produce marijuana plants indoors and the size of one warehouse that caught on fire is enormous. Denver firefighters say it’s a growing problem.

As far as fires go it was not a large one, but it pointed out what’s becoming a serious threat for firefighters.

“It’s so smoky you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Our firefighters go in there; that mesh presents an entanglement hazard. We can get a firefighter entangled, you can end up with a fatality,” Lt. Phil Champagne with the Denver Fire Department said.

The fire on Saturday night happened at a state-approved grow facility. Employees were reluctant to speak about the several dispensaries it serves.

While the dispensaries are in plain view, where they grow the plants can be right in the middle of residential neighborhoods like one in northeast Denver. Electrical workers rewired the cables after one fell and touched off an incident there. An owner pointed out the money and effort that has been put into putting in new power sources to support the grows.

“Once they get the permits, then their operations grow and it begins to exceed the capacity of their electrical component in the buildings,” Champagne said. “We’re getting tons of fires as a result of that.”

Denver fire says state-approved medical marijuana grow houses are a big enough problem, but clandestine grow houses are even trickier since they don’t know where they are.

The department could use more staff to conduct fire inspections on marijuana grow facilities.

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