Police got more than they bargained for when a cannabis business suffered a structure fire. Human remains were discovered on October 19 after a large fire consumed what’s believed to be a cannabis business in Canoga Park, California. The fire resulted in two deaths.
Emergency services arrived at the scene around 12:20 p.m. on Monday only to find three critically burned people running out of the 8400 block of North Canoga Avenue. One of whom had 90 percent of his body burned and injured. The other two are currently in the hospital—one in a critical state with the other in serious condition.
They were calling out for a fourth person’s name who was believed to be stuck inside the building. The fire was put out the following day and within the rubble, crews discovered a dead man. He hasn’t been identified at this time.
By the time firefighters had reached the scene, the blaze had already buckled the building it consumed and was also making its way to a neighboring building. Not to mention, there were reports of an explosion which led to electrical challenges.
Investigators believe this was potentially a marijuana grow operation site as large amounts of hash were found inside. “There is still an abundance of that hash material that is still smoldering,” LAFD Capt. Erik Scott told KTLA5.
Still, it remains unclear how the fire initially started.
The biggest concern rescue efforts have is if there’s more people underneath the debris. After combing through it all, they were able to identify six burned vehicles and account for five people. The agency also brought in a K-9 detection unit to track down other human remains, but there have been no reports outside of the two officially dead.
Is a Cannabis Business a Fire Hazard?
Like most industries, many states have implemented a fire code for marijuana businesses. Colorado was one of the first states to do so after legalizing cannabis back in 2012.
However, a fire code varies depending on the business – for example, an extraction lab will have a different fire code than a dispensary – and recent years have shown us we still have a lot to learn.
Back in 2019, POLITICO reported at least 10 fires or explosions had occurred in cannabis facilities during the previous five years. Almost all resulted in severe injuries to those working within the buildings.
“The extraction process is continuing to evolve,” Raymond Bizal, director of California and Oregon regional operations for the National Fire Protection Association, told POLITICO. “The fire-safety industry has to play catch-up.”
One of the biggest difficulties is that when a state legalizes cannabis, they don’t implement a fire safety code specially designed for cannabis. In turn, it’s events such as what happened in Canoga Park that make officials consider the problem.
While it remains unclear if the events at Canoga Park were caused by a marijuana-related facility, there may be some assumption that cannabis can cause fires to spread more easily.
Throughout California, wildfires have been known to ravage through cannabis crop fields. As of this time, there is no data concerning whether or not cannabis can spread wildfire quicker than other plants (though, it may be suspected considering most people smoke marijuana). Most agree that marijuana farmers are at equal risk to other types of farmers throughout the state.