LAKE COUNTY (CBS13) — Firefighters said three men in Nice refused to evacuate for the Ranch Fire because they were tending to their marijuana plants.

Lake County Sheriff Corey Paulich said in a press release Saturday that deputies were dispatched to the Bartlett Springs Road area when three men were being hostile toward fire engine crews. Firefighters said the men were in a Toyota pickup and refused to leave the area.

Travis Bell, 29 (source: Lake County Sheriff)

Deputies identified the men as Gary Thomas Wertheimer, 41, Steven Marshall Bell, 59, and Travis Steven Bell, 29. The three were reportedly watering their marijuana plants when they were contacted.

Steven Bell, 59 (source: Lake County Sheriff)

According to deputies, 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.

Gary Wertheimer (source: Lake County Sheriff)

Sheriffs said all three men were arrested for Interfering with firefighters during a fire operation and being an unauthorized person in an evacuation area. They were then released with a citation.

The Ranch Fire is 156,678 acres and 27 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. It’s part of the Mendocino Complex Fires which also contained the 44, 793-acre River Fire. The fires are burning 201,471 acres and are 34 percent contained.

New evacuations are in order for the fires and have been issued for southwest Glenn County. A full list of evacuations and road closures can be found below.

Comments (13)
  1. I guess the sad part to this all is the fact, if it were me, I wouldn’t want to evacuate either. With the non residents looting, you would want to do whatever you could to save what little may be left of your home.
    On a MJ front, that is ridiculous. But for an average N. CA resident who just wants to do what they can to at least try and save their home, they should be allowed.

    1. David Alster says:

      Sad part about “the big picture” these fools prevented 3 slurry drops from the air that was to help save an entire town and many more homes.

  2. Potheads gotta have their pot.

  3. Fine. Then die, dopers.

  4. Jerry Walton says:

    Should have gone ahead with the slurry drops on these morons. Good riddance.

  5. These men are obviously professionals working in the medical industry and thus have special protection under California law.

  6. Joe Pace says:

    Cheech and Chong made a movie about this…”Up In Smoke.”

  7. Leave the pot heads there and let them burn up with their pot.

  8. iratenate says:

    Dude! Nose hit!

  9. That, of course, makes perfect ‘stoner’ sense?
    Blazes that destroys towns should be less of a concern than Blazing that doesn’t let the ‘Blazer’, blaze the Weed the way that pleases the Blazer and not blaze the Weed, in a way that ensures the Blazer is not pleased…unless they hyper-inhale as the forest fire ‘blazes’ the Weed indiscriminately, but that ‘blazing’ has very minimal consumer ‘benefit’! … Risking your life and entire towns to protect that Blazing Commodity? – Tots get that wisdom!!

    Yet further proof of the psychologically detrimental impact of Weed! Welcome to ‘freedom’!
    No Brainer!

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