Abbotsford firefighters found themselves dealing with a hazardous electrical fire at a licensed medical marijuana grow-op Tuesday morning. Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service was called out to a fire in the powerhouse shed of a medical marijuana growing facility in the 28000 block of Townshipline Road at 5: 44 a.m., said AFRS assistant chief Dave Rivett.
Fire crews found the electrical outbuilding completely engulfed in flames, but the main marijuana production building about 50 metres away was untouched, said Rivett.
Electric fires can be dangerous for firefighters to control due to the risks of electrocution, said Rivett.
"It wasn't an especially large structure. But any time you have high voltage coming into building, it's always difficult to fight a fire around an electrical hazard like that."
However, B.C. Hydro was on scene quickly and confirmed the power was out, he added.
The danger firefighters faced at the legal marijuana grow operation was lower in comparison to the risks crews encounter at illegal sites, said Rivett.
"[Legal operations] are flagged. But at a clandestine grow you have no idea what you're dealing with until you get in the building sometimes," he said.
"With an illegal grow, the situation is not up to code and they can be wired up in basements and crawl spaces and they're extremely dangerous."
The cause of the fire is still unknown and under investigation by AFRS and Abbotsford Police, said Rivett.
Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said that despite being legal, the marijuana grow operation still presents some measure of danger to the public.
"We've maintained marijuana production, approved by Health Canada or not, brings with it inherent risks and not just from fire," said MacDonald.
"There's the safety of those at the property and those living nearby because of the potential of grow rips by gangs or organized crime."
AFRS Chief Don Beer said other concerns about licensed medical grows include local government's inability to zone, license and inspect them as Health Canada doesn't identify where the operations are located.
As such, the Fire Chiefs Association of British Columbia (FCABC) supports the federal government's move to shift medical marijuana production out of residential homes and into a licensed commercial environment that will allow for the inspection and auditing of producers to ensure they meet all the regulatory requirements, said Beer.
First reported @ abbotsfordtimes.com