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Local hemp farmer says 2019 was a 'learning curve' for hemp farmers

After three hemp drying facilities caught on fires within the past week, one farmer explains

Posted: Oct 14, 2019 6:10 PM
Updated: Oct 14, 2019 6:24 PM

CENTRAL POINT, Ore.,--Hemp harvest season is over and now it's time for farmers to process and dry their product. Different farms use different techniques to dry their product, but fire crews says some of the drying facilities have been starting fires. There have been 3 fires in hemp drying facilities within the last week in Jackson and Josephine counties. The most recent one burned down a barn in Medford along with 3,000 pounds of hemp.

"There's a lot of variables in a hemp drying process. Obviously they have a lot of electric with the heating. Those are some of the things were going to be looking at, the electrical system in here as well as any other equipment that they used," says Jimmy Johnson with Fire District 5.

NewsWatch 12 talked with a local hemp farmer today about how hemp is dried. Daniel Richardson owns Lane Creek Hemp Co. He says some people use heaters but he only uses fans and dehumidifiers because he has less hemp than a lot of farms.

Rural Metro Fire and Fire District 5 say that hemp drying facilities pose a fire risk with the large amount of flammable content, the heat, and all the equipment in a barn could lead to electrical overload. These string of fires could result in safety regulations being made for hemp farms. Right now, these drying facilities have little to no safety regulations as hemp is still a new industry.

"We're all learning and we're all doing our best to ride this hemp wave and be as tactful as we can," says Richardson.

This year is the biggest year that we've had for hemp processing and I believe it's only going to get bigger so we'll see what regulations come in the near future," says Jimmy Johnson with Fire District 3.

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