BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE
Antipot helicopter caused California
by Preston Peet- for
posted August 16, 2002
This has got to
be the very worst marijuana-related damage done in this state
in my entire lifetime. -- Dale Gieringer, California
A forest fire that burned out of control
for almost two weeks and devastated over 50,000 acres near San
Diego was caused by a helicopter looking for pot farms, a California
Department of Forestry investigation has concluded.
A California National Guard helicopter
was in the area looking for drugs, and clipped a power line, which
caused a spark which started the fire, said Martie Perkins,
fire information officer for the department. The helicopter was
working with a DEA anti-drug task force, out looking for marijuana
Called the Pines fire, the blaze started
on July 29 outside the town of Julian, about 40 miles northeast
of San Diego. By the time it was brought under control, it had
burned through 56,500 acres of land, turning 37 homes, 116 barns
and other outbuildings, and 161 vehicles into cinders, for an
estimated $10 million in damage. Between 500 and 1,000 people
were evacuated, and 24 firefighters injured.
Fighting the fire took almost 2,700 firefighters,
17 helicopters and 10 air tankers, with the final cost estimated
at $21 million.
Perkins noted that the San
Diego County Animal Control has been very helpful with rescuing
and sheltering pets, but that the outlook for the wild animals
in the area is not good. They run, they do whatever instinct
tells them. Sometimes they burrow in to an area where they shouldnt
burrow into and they die in the fire. It also takes out their
habitat, so that for the ones who do survive, their habitat is
The National Guard helped put out the fire
its antimarijuana pilots apparently started, but has not finished
its internal investigation of the incident. The helicopter missions
were immediately grounded in a safety stand down after
the accident and were not back in the air as of Aug. 8. All
we know is that we did have a helicopter that was on a mission
in that vicinity at the same time in which they believe the fire
started, says Major Kim Oliver of the National Guard.
As far as I know, they were out there
looking for marijuana, Don Thornhill of the DEA Task Force
tells High Times.
I guess it just goes to show how dangerous
marijuana is, says Dale Gieringer of California NORML. This
has got to be the very worst marijuana-related damage done in
this state in my entire lifetime.
Theres no doubt that most of
the outdoor marijuana-eradication efforts are not only a waste
of money to begin with, says Allen St. Pierre, head of the
Foundation, but the immense property and environment
damage that has been caused by this marijuana-eradication program
in that forest is so many times greater of the value of any illegal
marijuana found there. This is another gross excess in the War
on Some Drugs.