Bush fire leads to marijuana discovery

At least one Naramata pot farmer won’t be basking in the fruits of his or her labour come harvest time.

At least one Naramata pot farmer won’t be basking in the fruits of his or her labour come harvest time.

On July 7, a response to a small forest fire in Naramata led the RCMP to the discovery of approximately 100 marijuana plants. The plants were destroyed and the cultivators were not identified.

Naramata Fire Dept. chief Tony Trovao said a fire was burning in a wooded area of Crown land between Little Tunnel and the power lines in Naramata. Because the fire had spread past Naramata boundaries, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations was called to the scene. Upon entering deeper parts of the bush, it was forestry workers who stumbled across the plants. From there the RCMP were contacted.

“Being that a fire was present, we just walked over and threw the plants into the fire and dealt with them that way,” said Staff Sgt. Kurt Lozinski, of the Penticton RCMP. “We don’t think (the fire and grow operation) are related in any level,”

Lozinski said the plants varied in size from about 30 to 45 centimetres on average, and that they were scattered throughout a bushy area. He said there was a water reservoir on site which indicates a regular presence from the grower(s), but there were no houses nearby or any way to identify the culprits.

“The plants were destroyed, we’re not going to waste any time on (prosecution),” he said.

He said it would be difficult to prove who was responsible for producing the plants.

“You can’t put anybody actually to it just because somebody’s in the general area,” he said. “And it’s right near the KVR trail, it would be easy to stumble upon.”

Had charges been anticipated, Lozinski said the plants would have been collected as evidence.

Naramata RDOS director Karla Kozakevich, who has lived in the area for the past 10 years, said the grow op was the first she’s heard of locally out in the bush.

Trovao, who’s been with the local fire dept. for 18 years, said he’s noticed a few plants growing in backyards, but this week’s call was the first plantation he’s known about.