Heavy smoke from the Soberanes Fire engulfs trees to the left of Bottcher's Gap at the end of Palo Colorado Canyon Road on Sunday afternoon.

A group of illegal marijuana growers were smoked out of the wilderness during the Soberanes Fire and had to be rescued by authorities on Tuesday.

Authorities confirmed the pot was grown illegally, but there were no arrests made because the plants were “all burned up,” Monterey County Sheriff’s Office Cmdr. John Thornburg said. In other words, the 23,000-plus acre wildfire destroyed the evidence.

The group claimed to have a grow of about 900 plants in Bottchers Gap tucked in Palo Colorado Road, which to them, meant flames roasted an estimate of $1 million in product.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” Thornburg says.

The growers, who were initially believed to be a group of stranded hikers, were trapped in the midst of the fire for a few days as the blaze raged through picturesque communities, canyons and terrains.

Authorities said they searched for the group for hours on Tuesday after receiving a distressed 9-1-1 call from them. Cal Fire crews eventually spotted them and they were airlifted by helicopter to a safe area.

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None of the people in the group reported any injuries.

For more stories about the Soberanes fire, check out our full coverage of the incident at the Weekly's Soberanes Fire incident page.

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(1) comment

Bob Bodi

Where were they from? How much $ equipment would you estimate was burned up as well? Is there a possibility that that another group of growers could have sparked the blaze with an untended campfire?

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