Cannabis farmers in the communities of Post Mountain and Trinity Pines, California are refusing to evacuate their cultivation sites even as the August Complex wildfires close in and weather forecasters predict more fire-friendly conditions, the Associated Press reports.
The small towns are about 200 miles northwest of Sacramento.
Trinity County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Nate Trujillo told the AP that many of the residents that don’t want to leave the area because the cannabis farms are “their livelihood.” The communities – located in the famed Emerald Triangle – have about 40 legal farms. Authorities estimate there are as many as 400 unlicensed grows.
“There (are) millions of dollars, millions and millions of dollars of marijuana out there. Some of those plants are 16 feet tall, and they are all in the budding stages of growth right now.” — Trujillo to the AP
Mike McMillan, spokesman for the federal incident command team managing the northern section of the August Complex, said that while fire officials plan on going door-to-door to tell residents to evacuate they “are not going to die to save people.”
“…If they choose to stay and if the fire situation becomes, as we say, very dynamic and very dangerous … we are not going to risk our lives,” he said in the report.
At least 15 people have died due to the wildfires and a relative of two of the victims said the deceased chose not to evacuate despite the encroaching fire.
Weather forecasters are warning that the weather pattern this weekend will generate high temperatures and wind gusts that could reverse recent firefighting efforts that were assisted by low winds and normal temperatures.