SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - Santa Clara County Sheriff's Deputies busted what they're calling an illegal marijuana grow operation that came to light during the recent Loma Fire.
It took the Marijuana Eradication team most of the day to clear the property.
In all they seized 89 plants, which they say has a street value of more than $700,000.
That marijuana might have been growing illegally here, comes as no surprise to neighbors who live along Loma Chiquita Rd. They say they're familiar with the operations... and with the risks.
"It's just that you can't make one mistake up here. You make one mistake and big bad things happen," says neighbor Jim Yingling. He adds, "Some have chosen more risky ways to power their facilities and their properties and that might lead to some dangers."
Some residents believe marijuana grows might have contributed to the Loma Fire, which raged through the Santa Cruz Mountains for days.
An official cause has yet to be determined. But one effect has certainly been to expose growing operations that had long been hidden.
Foliage burned away. So did the tarps that covered the greenhouse, giving authorities a better view of what was beneath: 89 plants, many of them the size of small trees. A resident at the property, Yariv Dorr, was taken into custody.
"Doing aerial surveillance, we're able to see the marijuana grows more readily, due to the foliage being burned up and also the greenhouses themselves, " says Sgt. Rich Glennon with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.
And so this week, even as firefighters continue to put out hotspots, crews from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office have moved in. They're trying to bust as many of these operations as they can, while they can see them.
Still their Marijuana Eradication Team has received 150 tips so far this year and they say there's simply no way to keep up.
"The amount of resources it would take to address all these marijuana grows in Santa Clara County, would be almost infinite. we do the best we can, with the resources we do have," says Sgt. Glennon.