Black Fire Sparked By Chain Saw On Marijuana Growing Property In Cali

The Black Fire, which tore through 403 acres and destroyed five residences along with six outbuildings on Black Bart Trail between Redwood and Potter Valleys in mid-September, was started with a chain saw by three out-of-state men who had been hired by the property owner in a marijuana growing operation, according to Cal Fire’s Mendocino Unit, which detailed the findings in a report.

Colby Robinson, of Cleveland, Tenn., and owner of the 21 acres on Black Bart Trail, employed Gregory Celentano, of Maryville, Tenn., Gregory Ziebell, of Cleveland, Tenn. and Trevor Barnett, of Franklin, N.C., for “summer growing of marijuana, other work and general maintenance on his property,” Cal Fire discovered during its investigation. A house, garage and storage area, marijuana garden and greenhouse occupied the property owned by Robinson, Cal Fire stated. It was unclear in Cal Fire’s report what the greenhouse contained prior to the fire.

However, incident investigator Bob Farias noted the presence of 25 marijuana plants on the scene. All three men told Farias they were cutting an oak tree on the property which was blocking a small road leading to the greenhouse. The men apparently left the site for nearly an hour, in which time the fire started and spread to nearby vegetation.

Barnett estimated the blaze was initially six feet by six feet in size, and noticed the discoloration of the wood while cutting, which he attributed to the dull chain on the chain saw. Farias’ report also stated Barnett observed sparks flying from rocks that were being hit during the operation.

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