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Oakland Fire Leads to Pot Discovery


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(11-09) 10:49 PST OAKLAND - Federal drug agents are investigating an apparent marijuana-growing operation at a West Oakland building that was uncovered after firefighters put out a three-alarm blaze today at an adjacent warehouse, authorities said.

Oakland firefighters responded at 4:51 a.m. to a fire at a diesel-truck repair facility on the 300 block of Chestnut Street, fire Lt. David Brue said.

The warehouse was engulfed in flames and the roof collapsed as firefighters arrived, Brue said. The fire was controlled shortly before 6:40 a.m., and no injuries were reported.

To get to the fire, firefighters entered through an adjacent building at 336 Adeline St. and came across marijuana plants, authorities said. They contacted Oakland police, who in turn notified an Oakland officer assigned to a Drug Enforcement Administration task force.

An estimated 300 to 400 marijuana plants were found inside the building, said Special Agent Casey McEnry, DEA spokeswoman in San Francisco. The DEA is seeking a search warrant to conduct a thorough inventory of what's inside, McEnry said.

There was no apparent connection between the alleged pot-growing operation and the fire.

It is not uncommon for large pot-cultivation operations to be uncovered in Oakland. In October, police found more than 4,000 marijuana plants inside a newly built East Oakland home after checking on the resident's well-being because the garage door was left open.

In 2004, California Highway Patrol officers and DEA agents found more than 2,000 marijuana plants at warehouse on Market Street in West Oakland after receiving complaints from neighbors about the strong odor.

In 1999, a predawn burglar alarm led police to the discovery of 2,000 marijuana plants in a warehouse on 23rd Street in the city's Auto Row commercial district.

Source: San Fransisco Chronicle
Copyright: 2007 Hearst Communications Inc.
Contact: vk@sfgate.com
Copyright: Oakland fire leads to pot discovery
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