Hot Pot As Firemen Find Big Stash Of Cannabis

Wilbur

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Cannabis plants that went up in smoke on Thursday evening were among more than 1,000 found by firemen at a "cannabis factory" in North Ham Road, Little-hampton.

The discovery led police to a second house, in Bayford Road, where a further 600 plants were found, some up to four feet tall. Police estimated that together, the hauls had a street value of around £160,000.

Responding to a 999 call, firemen from Littlehampton and Arundel arrived at the house at 22 North Ham Road at around 5.20pm on Thursday to find smoke pouring from the building, but were not yet aware of the house's illegal contents.

Wearing breathing apparatus, they forced their way into the property to find it stuffed with the plants in nearly every room.

After dealing with the fire, believed to have been caused by an electrical fault, the firemen called the police.
Littlehampton fire commander Niall Cooper said: "It was basically a cannabis factory with all the lighting and everything, and it was full of plants.

"We weren't affected by the smoke as the guys who tackled the fire were wearing breathing apparatus and the house was ventilated with our positive pressure ventilation fan before anyone else entered."

Mr Cooper said the fire had started in the first-floor front bedroom and took about an hour to completely damp-down because it had got into some potting compost where it was smouldering.

Only some of the plants were destroyed by the flames and police guarded the property overnight before investigations got underway on Friday morning, when a link was found to the second address at 19 Bayford Road.

When police arrived at the second house at around 8pm on Friday, they forced the door open and found 600 cannabis plants, but no one inside.

No one was found at either of the two properties but at each house, there were signs that someone had recently been there and bedding and other items suggested that the plants had live-in gardeners.

Det Con Mark Williams of Littlehampton CID told the Gazette that the haul was one of the largest he had ever seen and described the two operations as "a professional setup".

He said that the two properties were both rented and there was a clear link between them but no one had yet been arrested.

"At both properties there was an extensive setup with equipment for the cultivation of cannabis," he said. "The electricity at both houses had by-passed the meters and gone straight into the mains supply to avoid charges but it is not clear whether this is what caused the fire at North Ham Road.

"Compared to what we normally find it is fair to say that this is on a large scale and certainly the largest I have seen in recent years.

"It was apparent that someone was staying in each of the houses to look after the plants, which have an estimated value of around £100 each."

The plants have since been destroyed by police.



Newshawk: User - 420 Magazine
Source: Littlehampton Today
Pubdate: 30 November 2006
Copyright: 2006 Johnston Press Digital Publishing
Contact: Contact Us - Littlehampton Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More
Website: Littlehampton Today: News, Sport, Jobs, Property, Cars, Entertainments & More
 
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