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At Least 3 Marijuana Plantations Destroyed in the Station Fire

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Of all that smoke that clouded the Los Angeles region during the Station Fire, some was of the whacky variety. Sheriff's deputies had identified three marijuana cultivation sites just before the fire began last month and they're sure more sites, unbeknownst to them, went aflame as well.

It's a continuing problem in the Angeles National Forest and well, continued to persist as the fire burned. "On Saturday, a team of hotshot firefighters working near a popular and badly burned recreational area high in the rugged San Gabriel Mountains found singed water lines with new ones already lying alongside them," reported the Associated Press earlier this week. "Fearing for their safety, the firefighters called the sheriff's department, whose deputies arrested a Mexican national found hiding out with a .22-caliber rifle..."

Over a half million marijuana plants have been pulled from within and surrounding the forest this year (that's equivalent to $2.4 billion in sales on the streets). Statewide, about 4 million plants were pulled from public lands in 2008.

Marijuana cultivation is not only environmentally disastrous to precious wilderness, but it can cause wildfires, such as the 88,650-acre blaze in Santa Barbara County last month. The Station Fire's cause is arson, but authorities do not believe it is related to marijuana operations.

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About the growers: they allegedly are tricked into working the grow sites. Police say Mexican immigrants are almost always the hired hands who are apparently hired as day laborers at a Home Depot in Los Angeles to garden, or water weeds, and are not allowed to leave for weeks at a time.

Related: Two Marijuana Plantations Found in the Santa Monica Mountains

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