Fire at medical marijuana growing facility raises concerns
Steamboat Springs — A local official says the recent fire at a marijuana-growing facility illustrates why regulations need to be put in place.
The fire Saturday morning at a building at 2432 Downhill Drive caused significant damage that was estimated at $20,000.
Firefighters received a report of brown smoke coming from the eaves of the building. The fire was just starting to get into the attic space when firefighters arrived. No one was injured.
Steamboat Springs Fire Marshal Doug Shaffer inspected the fire again on Tuesday with an inspector from the owner’s insurance company. They suspect the fire was started by a portable, standalone air conditioner inside the unit.
Shaffer said the unit was occupied by a caregiver, who provided medical marijuana to patients. Shaffer described it as a smaller operation.
While marijuana grow operations can be legal, they are currently unregulated in Steamboat and many parts of Colorado. That means law enforcement does not have a means to inspect the operations. There is also not a system in place for the operations to be inspected for safety by firefighters.
Shaffer said the inside of the unit contained some plastic that was not fire retardant. Plastic is oftentimes used in the operations to help regulate lighting and humidity.
Shaffer also said some electrical work inside the unit was not inspected or permitted.
On July 7, the Steamboat Springs City Council will again discuss the rules related to marijuana. The conversation is going to focus on where marijuana stores can be located and regulations related to private, unlicensed grow operations in the city.
On Friday, Shaffer and Fire Chief Mel Stewart will attend a conference in Denver to learn what other cities have done related to fire safety in the marijuana industry.
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