Cannabis facility burns in Salinas Valley; police investigate

Posted on July 25th, 2018 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

CaliforniaA fire swept through one of California's premier cannabis cultivation facilities, at Greenfield in Monterey County's agricultural Salinas Valley—destroying several greenhouses, and a large quantity of product. Authorities say an investigation is underway. But the timing of the blaze does raise eyebrows—it started at exactly 4:20.

The July 23 fire at Loudpack Farms—flagship facility in Greenfield's fast-growing cannabis sector, and producer of some of California's top-rated connoisseur bud—sent flames shooting high into the air and a thick plume of black smoke billowing to the sky. It was hours before the town's fire department was able to bring it completely under control. The fire departments from nearby Soledad and King City were also mobilized to the scene.

The blaze apparently started outside one of several greenhouses at the site and rapidly spread, ultimately consuming or damaging at least five. "The winds pushed it through the greenhouse structures very, very quickly," a Greenfield fire department spokesman told local KSBW. A Monterey Herald report indicates all the greenhouses at the facility were destroyed. The facility, which included 12 greenhouses, apparently had no sprinkler system.

Town authorities say the fire is under investigation. KSBW, Monterey Herald and other media reported that the fire broke out at 4:20 PM, without commenting on the possible significance of this time.

More than 300 people work at the facility, which earlier this year became Greenfield's largest employer. All employees on site at the time of the blaze were evacuated, and no injuries were reported, according to KSBW.

Greenfield city council Avelina Torres told KSBW: "My very first concern was the safety of the people, and I was happy to hear that everyone got out safe. Second thing is loss of jobs, and that's what I'm concerned about is these people that do have bills to pay, children to raise -- I'm hoping that they can continue working."

Loudpack said in a statement that the fire will "absolutely not" affect employment at the facility.  "We invest in our people. We will rebuild our facility and no one should feel that their job is at risk due to these unfortunate circumstances," said the statement e-mailed to KSBW.

Loudpack Farms is both the first and largest facility in Greenfield's burgeoning cannabis industry. In April, the city announced the company had become Greenfield's single largest employer, Monterey County Weekly reports.

The facility is actually located just around the corner from Greenfield City Hall, and is one of 11 such businesses now operating in the town. Municipal officials are betting on cannabis for the town's economic future, with some $1.7 million in tax revenue from the industry projected for this year.

The blaze comes as fire season is starting in California. Wildfires this week have shut down Yosemite National Partk, and closed Highway 299 through the Trinity Alps. But the official Fire Incident Map shows that the nearest wildfiire to Greenfield is in San Luis Obispo County, some 70 miles to the south. Last year's fire season took a toll on cannabis cultivation in California, but the Greenfield blaze seems unrelated to any wildfires. 

Cannabis industry website Leafly notes that Loudpack shared the facility with DNA Genetics, a cannabis multinational founded in the Netherlands over a decade ago. The facility's especially fragrant varieties won it the moniker "Terp Town"—for the natural chemical terpenes that produce the fragrances. Strains and extracts produced at the facility have won various awards. Loudpack's "Jack" strain scored second place for best sativa flower in the 2017 World Cannabis Cup in Jamaica. It also won first place for best CBD cartridge in this year's SoCal Cannabis Cup, held in April in San Bernardino.

Cross-post to Cannabis Now

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