Marijuana grow house with 1,175 plants catches fire in Hesperia
A Hesperia man was arrested over the weekend after he tried to run away from a house fire likely sparked by an illegal marijuana grow operation inside, authorities said.
Kong Zhang Ni, 45, was fleeing from the house with his belongings as firefighters and sheriff’s investigators responded to the scene about 9 p.m. Saturday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said. He was arrested on suspicion of utility theft, illegally growing marijuana and arson.
After responding to the fire and serving a search warrant, authorities found 1,175 marijuana plants in the house. The house had advanced lighting, air conditioning, fans, exhaust blowers and an air-filtering system to control the house’s climate and odor, sheriff’s officials said. An electrical short caused by wiring in the house likely caused the fire, authorities said. Deputies plan to red tag the residence, rendering it unsafe to occupy.
The electrical power to the residence was disconnected so the faulty wiring wouldn’t create a further hazard, deputies said.
Ni did not have a license to cultivate cannabis, and investigators said he stole the electricity he was using in the house.
The Sheriff’s Department will contact Southern California Edison investigators to determine exactly how much electrical power was stolen, but officials estimate the cost to be several thousands of dollars’ worth.
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