SHASTA-TRINITY NATIONAL FOREST, Calif. — According to U.S. Forest Service Federal Officials, at least one illegal marijuana grow has burned in the Hirz Fire and chemicals used on the marijuana grow and possible illegal activity pose a threat to firefighters.
Officials said hidden canyons and river drainage's offer an ideal habitat for farming, specifically marijuana grows, in Northern California.
Federal agents are aware of the rural areas in Shasta and Trinity County, taken over by drug cartels, which is why they are working near the fire lines in order to identify areas which pose a threat to firefighters.
"Firefighters have seen it in the woods. It's pink. It's a pink powder and it's very visible when it's out there," Safety Officer James Courtright said. He is referring to "carbofuran," a pesticide sprayed over pot plants and what seems to be a prevalent ingredient in illegal marijuana grows.
"Carbofuran is used to kill wildlife, squirrels, rabbits, and small mammals. It's a toxic substance and we don't want firefighters coming in contact with that and becoming ill," Courtright added.
Fire officials said illegal grows pose a health threat because of chemicals such as carbofuran, however firefighters have heard gunshots in the area before as well.
"It's been well communicated to folks, if they see it, to just back out of the area," Courtright said.
Officials said the grows are an interference with their firefighter efforts but it's a bigger issue than they are able to deal with while working on containing a wildfire.
Officials have reported at least one illegal grow in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest has been destroyed in the Hirz Fire and the chemicals are still very much a concern.
"It kind of eliminates the problem for us because the control lines are away from that area so we are no longer having folks encountering that but that doesn't mean they're not going to encounter another grow site out there somewhere," Courtright said.