An electrical fire at a Canadian cannabis cultivation facility struck just as the company was preparing to make its first shipment, according to a spokeswoman for Sundial Growers. Claire Buffone-Blair said that smoke could be seen pouring out of a building at the grow operation in Olds, Alberta. No injuries were reported in the incident, which occurred on December 10 at the cultivation center near Calgary.
“Nobody was hurt and everybody was safely evacuated,” Buffone-Blair said.
Although she was unable to give an exact count of the number of plants impacted by the blaze, Buffone-Blair said that all of the plants in four rooms of the cultivation facility had to be destroyed by workers.
“We have a no-compromise approach to quality, so we had to destroy plants in the affected rooms,” she said. “It’s a reportable incident that we’re learning from.”
Buffone-Blair added that Sundial Growers was prepared to handle and recover from the emergency.
“It’s nothing major . . . every business builds buffers into their contingency plans,” she said. “[The lost plants] were part of the process.”
Grower Still Makes First Shipment
The fire at the cultivation operation occurred right before the company made its first shipment of cannabis from a different facility in Rocky View County. That delivery was successfully made to the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC), the marijuana distributor for the province.
Buffone-Blair said that Sundial Growers hopes to produce 100 million grams of cannabis flower at its cultivation facility in Olds by the end of the year. The company has another cultivation operation at a site near Airdrie, Alberta. The company will supply cannabis to the Alberta market initially, with plans for expansion into British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Even with the fire, Buffone-Blair said that Sundial Growers was excited and relieved to be shipping cannabis after months of preparation.
“We’ve got our product on store shelves and we’re finally generating revenue,” said Buffone-Blair.
Cannabis Supplies Short in Canada
In October, Canada became the first G7 nation to legalize the sale of recreational cannabis. But since then, supply shortages have forced some dispensaries to reduce operating hours and limit sales to customers. In Alberta, the AGLC originally estimated that up to 250 cannabis stores could be operating in the province by the end of this year. But product shortages caused the agency to place a moratorium on issuing licenses in November. Consequently, Alberta has only 65 cannabis retailers, with 20 of those located in the city of Calgary. The AGLC hopes to add more licensed cannabis producers in an effort to ease supply shortages in the province.