Marijuana Growers Arrested After Choosing to Water Plants Rather Than Evacuate, Says Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Three growersInformation from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page:

On August 4, 2018, at approximately 1045AM, Deputies were dispatched to the Bartlett Springs Road area, in Nice. Fire crews were reporting three males in a Toyota pickup being hostile towards fire engine crews and refusing to leave the area.

When deputies arrived they contacted the engine crew. The firefighters told deputies they were attempting to fight the front line of the Ranch Fire which was approximately 20 yards from them. The three males refused to leave causing the fire crew to divert three VLAT (Very Large Air Tanker) passes. The VLAT was being used in an attempt to control the fire so it would not continue to travel to the town of Lucerne.

Deputies contacted the males who were identified as Gary Thomas Wertheimer, 41, of Nice, Steven Marshall Bell, 59, of Redwood Valley, and Travis Steven Bell, 29, of Nice. The three were watering their marijuana plants when they were contacted.

All three were arrested for Interfering with Firefighters During a Fire Operation and Unauthorized Person in an Evacuation Area and released with a citation.



  • Keep up the great coverage, Kym !!!!

  • Is the shirt a disguise?

  • Smokey Pounds > VLAT

  • Lost Croat Outburst

    Wow, not exactly the Brain Trust here. Did I read correctly that the fire was 20 yds. Away?!? And these dudes had one operative shirtless and two others in t-shirts? The shirts ought to say Regular or Extra Crispy. Maybe: I don’t care do u? This week’s Darwin Award? Geez, maybe Gaia wants to vape some testosterone and THC. Grow your own dope, plant a man.

    • “Grow your own dope, plant a man.”

      Oh! Thank you! Made me laugh as hard as the bumper sticker (which my ex never appreciated):
      “All my children have grown up except my husband.” He seemed to take it personally when I laughed at it. Before the kids had grown up, I might add.

  • What is wrong with people……

  • Was the area they refused to leave saved?

  • losers completely stupid .drip system? amazingly from another world oh this is our world now.

  • get a life and a lessen should have told you to not be stupid again and again and one more time.

  • [edit] sorry bruh, but don’t rush to judgement… maybe they have a mortgage — not saying it wasn’t the wrong thing to do, but that poverty manifests in strange ways

  • The shirt says redwood valley fire dept and in the arrest it said one of the men was from redwood valley. There’s probably a good chance that he could be a fire fighter as well as pot farmer.

  • Growers are out in Trinity doing the same thing in the advance area of the Carr Fire. It is a fun game they think, to sneak around the firefighters and get their watering done. Water heavy and leave, people. Or water heavy and then assist the firefighters in any way you can. I hope they get additional charges and we see more publicity of those charges. It’s a reprehensible way to conduct your growing.

    • Not everyone runs in the face of a challenge.

      Not excusing what happened here, but first:

      “Flames 20 yards away” doesn’t say much. I don’t see smoke or flames in any pictures, there was also apparently time to take pics of these guys sitting around. There was also time to call cops and have them arrested.

      Doesn’t sound too crazy of a fire area to me. If it was everyone would have left or been dead.

      Likely that they didn’t leave an evac zone and people wanted to assert some authority. Being an obnoxious dick doesn’t help either, especially to nice fire folks.

      Don’t harp on people for not leaving. Some of us can handle a bit more than others are willing to.

      Anything can happen with fire evac; some of us are more prepared to save our property. If you don’t have an interest in challenges, don’t do it.

      Firefighters are nothing more than humans trying to do something. You can try to.

      Fire hose, water, pumps, sprinklers, safe zones, escape routes, vegetation clearance, ground scraped to mineral earth, lookout. If you have these things at home, you’re likely ready to protect it safely. Otherwise, maybe listen to evacs.

      • When you are told to leave, leave. By not leaving you are delaying the effectiveness of the firefighters and are wasting resources while they deal with you. Same exact concept when a cop tells you to stop, or put your hands up. Failure to comply is ridiculous.

        • Wrong.

          The only thing that saves homes in a fire is someone with water who gives a shit.

          Many citizens homes in Redding were saved by neighbors with hoses. Same in Santa Rosa.

          Earlier this year in a fire started just north of trinity but was halted at 300 acres because of citizens that WERE PREPARED.

          California citizens might not always have an evac notice, like in Santa Rosa last year. Better to BE PREPARED to fight a fire than not be.

          By all means leave of you want, but don’t be angry at those of us who are more ready than you.

          • They said planes were called off because they wouldn’t leave they were going to drop the retardant stuff to save a town but these jerked offs

      • Yes, brave little criminals. Regular Conan the barbarians to the last second. Brave to mouth off to authorities. Brave to stand and continue committing felonies (or feeding addictions) to the end. Well, not the end, because you would all scamper off like (brave) rats when the flames licked your gangster attire. America applauds such bravery. Your parents are very proud.

        • When you said ” your gangster attire”, you must have been talking about the super super scary wolf/moon tee-shirt, right?

          Look, I’ve written the following:
          “Not excusing what happened here,”


          “More than likely these guys were just total assholes and deserved what they got because of their ego.”

          So don’t try to twist my BE PREPARED rant into anything else. Please and thank you.

          • Who pays these trolls to hate on weed like this? Legal growers in the permit process, lol, that’s who

            Shit cures cancer

            • There were quite a few haters of marijuana before legalization…

              • There’ll be a bunch who still hate after the inevitable Federal legalization. “Haters gotta hate!”

              • Thanks Kym, I agree… The folks hating on their regions’ only economic engine is likely not a result of their own sheer ignorance or “conservatism” lol…. They aren’t really concerned about the children or piety… There is something else at play with these draconian tactics — this is about forcing back to the landers out of the hills so that logging corporations and big weed corporations can buyout the land for pennies on the Dollar!!! The county is on the take. Mobbed up… Pelosi’s dad was a gangster, and now we are electing a “Castellano” lol… It’s like the unions where theft and 500K salaries are the norm, progressives just fall for this stuff…

                Total BS… And even our President thinks these laws are rediculous… Traditionally it was the Republicans who hated weed. Now, it’s just paid special interest lobbyists working for big corporations or worse who hate weed in order to control the land, and therefore the $$$… We all know where the stuff goes, but this isn’t about anything besides limiting competition, and calling it “legal!” — this is just strong arm top down tactics to consolidate the industry.

                All in the name of “saving mother nature” HA! what a scam, and the water and property rights should belong to the land owners (who better to put out fires with stored water???) while the rules regulations and restrictions should be placed on big corporations, not small subsistance farmers or ranchers like you! The one acre caps prevented a lot of this, and at least trinity is trying to keep out “Weedmart” by not letting corporations buy 10 properties with 10 permits.

                PS: everyone should stop calling it “legalization”, this is illegalization if anything… It’s a lot like what is happening to small food farmers and the USDA… Look up the new 2015 rules regarding food farming — very top heavy and meant to stop competition from mom and pop farmers… Same concept.. Maine has a food revolution going on now, and it’s about giving back farming to the mom and pop… Red Tape is the enemy of the working man. Endless red tape and firey hoops to jump through just like the USDA does on mom and pop food farmers…

                PS: I’m a libertarian liberal (not a corporate libertarian, but a man OF the people and FOR the people) and I have to say that the demon-crats no longer represent anyone but big $$$ as do main line republicans. They tell you they are for the environment, but it’s a ruse, they just like $$$

                We need a new movement — democrats against oppressive government, firey hoops, NWO, 1984 style technocracy, against big government/monopoly and corruption… There is a reason Halliburton and Monsanto are in the permit program, and it ain’t nature.

            • Some people here call everyone “haters” who is not nodding like bobbleheads every time they say something. There are pro pot trolls too. And more of them here. Sometimes it’s not about pot at all, although those who think the universe revolves around their pot don’t see it. Sometime people are just objecting to the bad behavior of other people.

      • Firefighters are highly trained and tackle a fire as a team and if you are still there after an evac was ordered you are just getting in their way, untrained and somebody to look after. THREE VLAT passes had to be diverted because these idiots didnt listen and valuable time and resources were lost. If you want to try and save your property make preparations before hand and then leave. It’s not about you thinking you can handle yourself, it’s about you being in the fucking way.

        • ^^THIS^^

          Thanks for telling it like it is, Norberto.

          • Let me put it to you simply.

            In 2015 I was in an evac zone during lightning fires in Trinity.

            No firefighters present to tell me, I was alerted through press releases on the net. And the ball of fire and smoke coming at me was a fair warning.

            I stayed. I protected my land. I fought that bitch of a fire for 10 days with 5 neighbors before cal fire had resources for my extremely remote location.

            So, do what you want. But stop talking the talking points of intricate matters that involve property and life when your experience is likely very limited.

            • I like you Brian, I was the first to fight the valley fire in my neighborhood and my home survived, I was not in the way of any firefighters because there where none they showed up 2 days later and then I could leave and get some sleep…

              • Amazing, great job!

                People can easily work together in these situations..

                I hope you never have to fight for it again!

              • These were not people fighting a fire. These were people travelling in and out to water their pot. They were not in a remote area without firefighters- they were arguing with the firefighters.

        • Vlat can drop on anything they want if it’s important.

          Retardant doesn’t kill people. People are “painted” all the time.

          I am arguing for preparation by more people. I’m not asking you to stay if you don’t want. So stop thinking you know best.

          There’s no reason why an able body with prep at a house is more of a hindrance than a help.

          There’s no patience here for unnecessary egos. I’m more able than most firefighters because of their red tape. I can handle my pumps, drive my trucks and use my saws.

          That would take 3 different people in a fire crew with different accredations.

          • Brian- I agree with you. People have the right to remain on their property and protect their homes or crops. I have been there and have been helped by very excellent firefighters, once they got there! But when you leave a mandatory evacuation area then you lose the right to go back in. That is so your traffic does not interfere with operations or distract firefighters from their job. My complaint with these guys is that they insisted on arguing with firefighters about going back in. And that’s what caused the problems. They did not stay at their place but wanted to commute in there to water. Once off your property you need to give up authority to the firefighters. Not fight with them! People staying inside an evacuation area to fight the fire from overtaking their homes or gardens- I have done it at a friend’s place and it was the difference in his home standing. No problem there. We do things ourselves whenever we can and that’s why we don’t live in town.

            • A friends brother is in Lewiston.

              We laughed about him today because he is a smoker. He only has 2 smokes left.

              So either:
              This fire will make him quit smoking
              He’ll evacuate for cigarettes.

              This is really funny shit…

      • You didn’t read the story. These guys were interfering with the aircraft fighting the fire. Maybe they can kick in some of their illegal weed money to help rebuild the homes that were lost because the aircraft couldn’t do their job. Dumb ass transplants.

        • The VLAT story is bullshit.

          If it needs to drop retardant it will and should have.

          People are painted with it all the time.

          More than likely these guys were just total assholes and deserved what they got because of their ego.

          But that’s likely it.

          Now, you can read my comments, regarding every commentor, who turned this into a verbal bashing of staying behind to protect your home in an evac zone.

        • [edit] .. I am not judging you and wish you would see the light of Jesus Christ, who created weed. The weed “law” isn’t from on high like the word of God, plus its a misdemeanor

    • I call BS on these ridiculous characterizations – these guys were obviously asking for it but I’ve been one of those farmers with a crop and fire on my property and I damn sure wasn’t ‘sneaking around ‘ or interfering – i was holding shit down on my hill while it burned.

      We know the roads, water sources and potential hazards of our neighborhoods while the rotating crews of firefighters often have incomplete or incorrect information.

      No way in hell I’m going to leave and put the survival of my property and livelihood in the hands of a hotshot crew from Modesto that hasn’t slept in 3 days! Are any of you anti-pot know-it-alls going to bring them iced coffee & salmon jerky @ 2am then show the crew chief the safest spot to turn her rig around?

      • Your comment brought so many memories, especially re-explaining the maps every 24 hours to the new crews.

        And what you said here;

        “No way in hell I’m going to leave and put the survival of my property and livelihood in the hands of a hotshot crew from Modesto that hasn’t slept in 3 days!

        Buddy, I’m right there with you. I know they care and work hard, but so do I.

        And someone said we are just “getting in the way” of trained professionals.

        How is it that a crew of convicts is more able than me? Firefighting is laborious, bodies are needed not brain surgeons. As you said we know our areas better than an outsider.

        When your fighting for your property, all you need to do is fight for a couple hundred feet, your not fighting all 200,000 acres of fire.

        Defensible space applies to anyone there to defend it.

  • I hope after they were arrested that the planes dumped their load on top of those plants.

  • A special kind of stupid these guys are. I hope their grow op was reduced to ashes.

  • Wouldn’t have to worry about this shit if they let us log and clear the forest floors. All are dumbass.

    • No doubt… and it’s cal-fire that sticks you with all the BS red tape… I was an LTO, so I had to read the FSPA and it’s like picking up the Illiad or a Fitzgerald novel… I mean, it’s Cal-Fire who caused the fires they put out by creating such a red tape-a-thon around cutting a friggin hazard tree down. Trump has some flaws, but he is right about the laws on water and trees up here being [edit]

  • My family rides motorcycles, and have come across many scary threatening pot growers over the years. As a mom of a firefighter, one of my big worries is these kind of dirtbags putting his life in danger.

    • Stereotypes are awesome.

      What motorcycle gang of heathens do you got colors for?

      • I think she might have been talking about dirt bikes. I do have to agree with her because my husband, sons grandkids are hunters and have come across many grows while hunting on public land over the years. And yes it can be scary if the people tending the grow are there.

        • Ok. For sure. I think all of us, myself included, would rather NOT come into Cartel (Trespass) grows on public lands.

          I don’t think that’s what Jennys comment was for.

          And it’s not what this article is about.

          I did find the comment to be humerously ironic though.

          Jenny, I didn’t mean to pick a fight, and most seriously I hope your son stays safe out there, im sure he will be. And thanks to him.

          About stereotypes I say this:

          Not every grower is in a Cartel.

          Not every grower on private land is an asshole.

          And not every motorcycle rider is in a gang.

          All firefighters ARE awesome….and so is this website.

    • Jenny — grows on public lands are lame indeed, but if you are running across them on private lands you are trespassing! Maybe you should just move. If you lived in Nebraska and were alergic to corn it’s a similar spot… Don’t make everyone else go back to rotary phones bc you don’t understand reefer’s anti-cancer siezure and anti-dimensia properties… I have many family members that have suffered from cancer and it’s not cool

  • General Turgidson

    From facebook:
    Message for RVFD: Today a picture of an individual wearing a fire department shirt from our agency was posted by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office regarding his arrest for interfering with firefighting operations on the Ranch Fire. This person has never been a member of our department. The members of this department take our responsibility to serve our community extremely serious and would never condone this behavior. Please share this information with your friends and family in the area.

    Maybe this is the only clean shirt this guy owns.

  • The picture of the guy with the uhaul in the background is hilarious. Is uhaul only used in the weed industry anymore? Every uhaul I see has a sketchy dude driving it with a tail behind it.

  • Strange news to cover, there are more important local stories to tell.

  • Has everyone forgotten how Cal Fire defended all the illegal pot farms in Trinity during the lighting fires of 2015? A friend of my has a picture of him watering plants in a smoke mask while an engine is fighting the fire in the background and everything around the patch is burning up. He also has a picture of a firefighter in full head to toe gear watering some cannabis plants during some down time. The firefighters loved it and kind of encouraged the workers to stay so they could help out and so that they couldn’t leave the farm. The got a kick out of it. Fighting fires to prevent all that weed from burning up! Haha.

  • These people may not be high class to some people’s standards but some people don’t care to be high class so don’t judge by appearance thats called being prejudice. They would be the people that have the balls to stand next to you and help put out flames on your house if the fire fighters were not able to protect your house because the fire fighters are spread to thin as they are . The state has plenty of money but they don’t want to spend it on anything that helps the citizens like hiring more fire fighters or buying better equipment or spending on making a plan on how to change things that are causing the fires. So don’t judge people for there appearance and they do have the right to protect there property . Just because all the scared cowards would have ran off like a bunch of whining little babies. If better actions by the state would have taken place these men wouldn’t have to wait for the fire retardant drop that maybe would have never came or didn’t need to come if the state had taken measures to prevent this in the first place . The government makes all decisions there was no vote that I know of on a plan to take action for preventing the fire dangers that are so bad year after year now. It’s all in the governments hands and what have they done … nothing but take away funding for fire fighting and not one thing for fire prevention. Even as pacific gas and electric caused so many fires they don’t have the balls to go after them because they bring in so much money to the state . So there it is .

  • Humboldt AG scientist

    It’s embarrassing we have to borrow fire fighters and equipment from other countries when we live in the wildfire capital of the world . Our state government doesn’t give a shit about us. Donald trump is right we look like idiots in California but it’s not us it’s the state government decisions to not take action in prevention and are cutting fire fighters funding . Give the fire fighters more money so they can do there job . There’s not one river that doesn’t dump all its water into the ocean , leave a small portion so fish can swim up river and take the rest of the water and turn it back around and store it in a lake . But I’m sure all the whinny brats will find something to complain about so nothing gets done because in order to get voted in and stay , they have to try and make everyone happy which is impossible. So here we are .

  • While people are worried about passing laws about banning straws the the government is cutting all funding for anything that’s helps it’s people . Humanity is destroying itself we all look like idiots .

  • Leave Marijuana alone. You must be better to research more about the good side of Marijuana not only focusing on the bad side. Take it seriously and mean it.

    Buy MJ Seeds Online

  • Is there any truth to cdf getting paid by acreage burnt ,an incentive so to speak?

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