Fire reveals marijuana growing operation in South Glendale

Police are investigating the owner of an illegal marijuana growing site discovered by firefighters last weekend in a south Glendale apartment after heavy smoke was seen coming from a window, officials said.

Detectives haven't arrested anyone in connection with the grow, which yielded 60 marijuana plants and was equipped with a carbon filter, high-intensity lighting and cooling and irrigation systems, according to Glendale police spokeswoman Tahnee Lightfoot.

Still, they are looking into who is responsible for growing the marijuana in the 200 block of North Belmont Street, she added.

As part of their investigation, detectives will also look into how much electricity was being used in the unit or the entire building, Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said. But for now, he said, it appears Sunday's smoke and fire may have started because the owner of the marijuana grow was consuming a large amount of electricity and caused something to overheat.

“These grows are not a joke,” he said. “If people think growing marijuana is not a big deal, then just imagine you are a neighbor to somebody growing one of these. Your family is at risk.”

Firefighters responded at about 8:39 p.m. to reports of a strong odor of smoke from a second-story apartment, said Brandy Villanueva, Glendale Fire Department spokeswoman. After finding heavy smoke, firefighters evacuated the building and ventilated the unit.

Firefighters were able to confine the fire to a bedroom inside the apartment, but then quickly noticed the marijuana plants, which officials said prompted them to notify police. Firefighters also removed all hazardous chemicals used in the marijuana grow.

Overloading electrical outlets carries a potential for fire and “does became a serious threat to the community,” Villanueva said. Still, she added the cause of the fire is under investigation and estimated the damage at about $25,000.

On Wednesday, the building's manager, who declined to be identified, was making repairs to the apartment unit, which officials said was inhabitable.

The manager described the renter as a good tenant and said he was visiting Arizona to drop off a pit bull dog. The manager said he recently told the tenant that he wasn't allowed to care for a dog in the building.

The manager said he was shocked to learn about the marijuana grow.

Neighbors reportedly told police that a strong odor of marijuana had been lingering in the area for the past month.

The marijuana grow, Lorenz said, was sophisticated because it appears as though its owner had taken steps to purchase plant seedlings and halogen lights, and was attempting to regulate the climate within the apartment.

The material used to enclose the marijuana plants, he added, also violated the city's fire codes because of its potential for ignition.

“There could have been serious injuries and certainly death,” Lorenz said.


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