Multiple fires in Sams Valley near suspected marijuana grow

SAMS VALLEY, Ore.– Multiple fires started on a property near Highway 234 in Sams Valley Tuesday night.

One neighbor suspects they were related to an illegal marijuana grow and he is looking for answers from local agencies.

Travis Snyder believes there was an illegal marijuana grow on a property next to his home for years.

He said he asked a number of local agencies to look at the property, but none of them made it out there before the fires started.

Snyder said, “unfortunately, Tuesday night is when they decided to light this on fire.”

Snyder, a Sams Valley resident, is the owner of Precision Electric in Medford.

He said the property adjacent to his home has been used as a marijuana grow for years.

Recently, he heard some noise coming from the nearby property and decided to use a drone to see what was going on.

He saw a few people using a wood chipper to grind up plastic and other materials from what looked like hoop houses.

“They dug a gigantic hole and they’re grinding this stuff up and just putting it in the hole,” Snyder said, “we thought at the time they’re just probably just going to cover it up with dirt and call it good. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.”

Snyder said the alleged perpetrators even fired a gun at his drone when they noticed it hovering nearby.

He said he reached out to several local agencies to see if anything could be done about the situation.

He was especially concerned about how close some of the materials were to the nearby Snider Creek.

“That was a main concern. We’re all on wells out there, so water quality is very important, especially in Sams Valley. As soon as we saw what was going on we called DEQ.”

Snyder said he reached out to DEQ twice, who said they would send someone to the property by Wednesday.

But by Tuesday night, Snyder was able to see flames coming from the property.

“We could see multiple cars stopping and putting their flashers on. I’m assuming they were calling it in,” Snyder said, “because this fire quickly grew. I knew immediately what was being burnt because you could smell the black, toxic stuff in the air. It was just disgusting.”

Snyder said Fire District 3 responded to the fire and was able to get it under control.

But Snyder said he could still see some of the plastic burning the following morning.

He is still worried that more illegal grows could pop up on the property.

“The ownership has not changed. We don’t know if they were cleaning up because they’re getting ready to sell. Maybe they’re thinking they’re going to polish it up,” Snyder said, “we don’t know what’s going on, it’s hard to tell. There’s a bunch of buildings over there that they’ve built with no permits, so that whole property has been kind of an eyesore for a while.”

Snyder said DEQ still hasn’t visited the property as of this report.

NBC5 reached out to DEQ to see if they are investigating the situation, they said they have received a complaint and are planning to investigate the incident.

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NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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