Victim of grow-op explosion identified

Gleneden site was licensed to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes.

A man who was seriously burned in an explosion at a legal marijuana grow operation in Gleneden has died.

David Allen Kingsbury, 45, died in hospital Friday, the day after the Thursday evening explosion. He was from the Lower Mainland, but most recently had been staying in Salmon Arm.

At approximately 8:30 p.m. on July 4, RCMP, the Salmon Arm Fire Department and BC Ambulance responded to a report of a possible explosion at an address on 50th Street NW.

Upon investigation, RCMP determined this was a legal, fully-licensed marijuana growing operation taking place at the site, and that the explosion appeared to be the result of a malfunction with a piece of machinery.

“There was nothing criminal about this, as it was a legal grow,” says RCMP Sgt. Carlos Tettolowski. “As such, that makes this more of an industrial work accident.”

Tettolowski said the man was “gravely injured” in the explosion and was transported to hospital.

The Salmon Arm Fire Department called out crews from Halls #3 and #4 to the possible explosion, but when they arrived there was no fire.

“On arrival, we discovered a shop which showed signs of a fire consistent with some type of explosion, but there was nothing actually burning when we got on-scene. There was one male occupant who had severe burns to a major part of his body,” said Salmon Arm Fire Chief Brad Shirley. “The shop contained a very sophisticated grow operation that was licensed to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes.”

Shirley says the fire department’s investigation is ongoing, and the cause has yet to be determined.

The fire chief says this incident demonstrates why the federal government is taking initiatives that will see all “legal residential” grow operations cease operations by April 1, 2014, instead  moving towards commercial-type operations.

“Legal or not, grow operations are high risk occupancies,” says Shirley. “There are no fire inspections required for residential grow-op properties, and most grow-op related incidents fire departments attend haven’t had gas or electrical permits or inspections. Because of this they continue to pose a risk to occupants, firefighters and other first responders.”

Statistical data indicates that of the 30,000 legal marijuana grow operation licences in Canada, 10,000 of them are in B.C.

“So safe in saying, we look forward to seeing change.” Shirley adds.

The BC Coroners Service, RCMP, the BC Safety Authority and WorkSafe BC continue to investigate this incident.