WAMM Pot Garden Threatened by Lockheed Blaze

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  WAMM Pot Garden Threatened by Lockheed Blaze

Posted by CN Staff on August 15, 2009 at 21:00:31 PT
By Alia Wilson 
Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel  

Santa Cruz, CA -- Between the raining ash and lack of sleep, Valerie Corral struggled to keep her eyes open Saturday afternoon, as she watched flames continue to burn on her Swanton Road property. "I haven't slept since Thursday," Corral said. All the food in her home is depleted, but even if she had any there would be no way to cook it because all of the propane tanks have been removed from her property. She and her husband, Mike, cooked their breakfast on a dual-sided hot plate. 
Priorities such as eating and sleeping have been shifted drastically. Instead the Corrals are staking out to protect their 106-acre property, including a nearly mature pot garden planted earlier this year to benefit members of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana. "One hundred percent of this garden goes to our 150 members," Corral said. "If this were to go, it would affect them all."Five fire crews came in Friday to help battle flames alongside Valerie and Mike Corral, founders of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana. By that point, the blaze already rushed down the upper portion of their property in the mountains, destroying about half of it. Nearly three-fourths of their property, mostly trees and a small cabin, was lost in the fire by Saturday afternoon. Two homes, one for the volunteers and one for the Corrals, and the pot garden, with plants up to 4 feet tall, were left standing.Since Friday afternoon, fire crews have been of assistance, with helicopters constantly emerging from the smoky air, dropping water overhead around Valerie's home, a few hundred feet away from the garden. Fire crews acknowledged the legal status of the garden and said their objective was not to protect the garden but to protect the structures and put out the burning mountainside. "The flames are closest to Val's house," WAMM board member Suzanne Pfeil said. "Valerie and Mike and some other volunteers have been out there, doing their best to defend the houses and garden with hoses and shovels. So far so good."As fire crews arrived on Saturday, the only thing lost in the fire was a small cabin that was used for meditation located on the upper half of the property, Corral said. Mike Corral tended the pot garden Saturday, watering and trimming the plants, as helicopters flew overhead. "I've never been so happy to see helicopters," Mike Corral said referring to what in the past might have been a DEA raid instead of a helping hand. "Now whenever I don't hear them I start to worry."On a ridge above the garden, a strike team comprised of firefighters from Zayante, UC Santa Cruz, Branciforte, Scotts Valley and Cal Fire established a fire line. Crews pulled from a 10,000-gallon water tank on the property."I was doing better until the firefighters told me they can save my house again," Corral said after a perimeter had already been safely established around her home. New flames sparked in different locations on the ridge above the garden. Within seconds a small flame shot up a full grown pine tree but helicopters and fire crews quickly doused them."It's an uncanny thing to witness," Corral said. "We've been taking shifts every half-hour to keep an eye on the perimeter. I figure if I can do something I will, but I would have nothing if it weren't for the firefighters. They are incredible."Prayer flags waved in the breeze above a special memorial garden on the property dedicated to WAMM members who have died. The garden was left completely untouched by the flames. "There are grave stones up there and special rocks to remember them by and it didn't burn at all," Pfeil said. "We're amazed, it went right around it."The Corral's have plans to expand the pot garden in the near future as membership increases, but the project has been put on hold until the property is back to normal."I can't even imagine what my winter is going to be like," Corral said. Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)Author: Alia WilsonPublished: August 15, 2009Copyright: 2009 Santa Cruz SentinelContact: editorial santa-cruz.comURL: Medical Marijuana Archives

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Comment #16 posted by Hope on August 18, 2009 at 13:57:11 PT
More fire resistant cannabis plants...
Mexican drug smugglers tied to California fire ""Although the La Brea Fire started more than one week ago, there is evidence that the unburned marijuana garden area has been occupied within the last several days," the statement said.Sheriff's spokesman Drew Sugars said investigators found tens of thousands of marijuana plants growing in the area. No arrests have been made, he said."Is there a more fire resistant plant?Of course, it's wild fire retardnent qualities cannot be utilized either or tested... because the plant is illegal.
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Comment #15 posted by Hope on August 16, 2009 at 18:20:52 PT
I'm sure they're fighting those fires. I just went "men", thoughtlessly. I am in awe of firefighters and may have been waxing a moment nostalgic for my particular childhood's image of the brave, selfless firefighter. A male usually. Stereotypical outdated perception. My sincere apologies.
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Comment #14 posted by Hope on August 16, 2009 at 18:12:49 PT
There have been a number of injuries among firefighters fighting these particular fires.No deaths that I'm aware of.
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Comment #13 posted by Hope on August 16, 2009 at 18:10:37 PT
In some news reports
the "Corral Fire" has been mentioned.Wildfire. It's bad, and the terrain is apparently very rough and difficult in their area.Thankful for the firemen! 
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on August 16, 2009 at 17:54:11 PT
A worker in the WAMM garden salutes the work of a helicopter pilot after a water drop foiled advancing flames Saturday. (Bill Lovejoy/Sentinel)
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Comment #11 posted by Universer on August 16, 2009 at 17:02:30 PT
Others rush out; they rush in
Sounds like props to the firefighters are warranted.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on August 16, 2009 at 07:21:50 PT

I agree with you. Without the Spirit of the Corrals in this world we would probably self destruct as a society. I value good, kind and gentle hearts.
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Comment #9 posted by Sam Adams on August 16, 2009 at 07:18:05 PT

FOM - it must be devastating to see your property burn, I think within a year or two it will be full of green growth again though. A lot of critters and birds of prey benefit and move in.I've had enough bad things happen to me that I've seen people like Corrals in action. You start to realize that it's compassionate people like them that are a critical force holding society together. There aren't any commercials or sitcoms or big stories in the media about most of the selfless volunteers out there in the world.
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Comment #8 posted by FoM on August 16, 2009 at 07:04:46 PT

When I got online in the Fall of 96 Valerie Corral and Dennis Peron were the only people I thought were what I believed the future should be. WAMM has stayed true to compassion and marijuana. I believe Dennis Peron has too. I'm sorry for what they lost but hopefully they will recover and keep on keepin on doing the right thing.
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Comment #7 posted by Sam Adams on August 16, 2009 at 06:57:38 PT

that is great news. I imagine you'd want to clear the land around the garden anyway, it's good for fire safety too.that's really too bad about the rest of the property.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on August 16, 2009 at 06:37:59 PT

It's Looks Good For Valerie and Mike!
Excerpt: On Swanton Road, five fire crews were helping Valerie and Mike Corral to save their home and medical marijuana farm. They appeared to succeed. The flames also spared a memorial garden dedicated to deceased members of the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, which the Corrals founded."There are grave stones up there and special rocks to remember them by, and it didn't burn at all," said alliance board member Suzanne Pfeil. Amazing everyone, she said, the fire skirted the garden.
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on August 16, 2009 at 06:34:01 PT

charmed quark 
I looked this morning and nothing so far. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. 
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Comment #4 posted by charmed quark on August 16, 2009 at 06:26:35 PT

Good to hear Valerie C. is still OK
Last fall, I read an article about Valerie and WAMM that said they were losing the property. Looks like they are still on it. Any updates about their situation.
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on August 16, 2009 at 05:28:51 PT

Mike and Valerie
I hope they saved the farm. I didn't find anymore news so far on the fires this morning. They have always been a model of what I hoped would happened with medical marijuana. No other way of approaching medical marijuana has ever made real sense to me. 
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on August 15, 2009 at 23:13:52 PT

Oh my gosh.
Pine trees burning are fearful things indeed.I can imagine a black and gray and white winter for them. It will come back though. Slowly. But it will come back and it likely will be better than ever. Maybe.I'm glad they're alive and they're holding their ground.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on August 15, 2009 at 21:01:54 PT

Mike and Valerie Corral
I hope they get the fires under control quickly. Good luck to everyone fighting these fires.
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