It's long been a fear of state parks officials -- that California's already vulnerable, tinder-dry forests could be set ablaze through activities of pot growers who have penetrated deep into wilderness areas to cultivate weed.
"It's a very big concern of ours," state parks spokesman Roy Stearns told the L.A. Weekly recently, when asked about potential fire dangers posed by pot growers and vandals to parks threatened by budget closures. "We almost need a Neighborhood Watch from Oregon to the Mexican border."
Now, according to today's L.A. Times, such fears may be justified. The paper reports that the 87,000-acre La Brea fire was ignited by "a cooking fire near a remote, overgrown canyon in Los Padres National Forest."
An Associated Press report says that prior to the blaze, the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department narcotics unit had been preparing to shut down cultivation sites in the area.
Much of Los Angeles County is ringed by the San Gabriel and Santa
Monica mountain ranges, both of which are known as homes to an unknown
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number of pot-growing operations. Last month two separate pot
plantations were discovered in Malibu Creek State Park and in federally
protected Zuma Canyon, both located in the Santa Monicas. The
655,000-acre Angeles National Forest fire level is currently set at "Very High."