House Fire Leads To Major Pot Bust In College Area - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

House Fire Leads To Major Pot Bust In College Area

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Firefighters discovered a marijuana-cultivation operation in a College-area home today while extinguishing a blaze that spread through part of the residence, authorities reported.

Flames began spreading through a converted attached garage at the single-story house in the 5100 block of Alumni Place about 3 p.m., according to police and the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

A man who lives in the residence was home when the blaze erupted and stayed inside for a time, looking for his dog, before fleeing outside, SDFRD spokesman Maurice Luque said. The animal later was found, unharmed, in a backyard area.

It took crews less than five minutes to subdue the blaze, Luque said.

San Diego Police received a search warrant to seize evidence around 9 p.m. Tuesday night and discovered the operation had more than 300 plants in a sophisticated hydroponic growing system. 

Investigators estimate the pot has a street value between $1,600 to $2,000 per pound, but could not estimate the value of the plants, which were in different growth stages.

Firefighters suspect the blaze was caused by an overloaded electrical system used in the growing operation.  Police also say electricity was being stolen from the grid, so the suspect also faces an electricity theft charge.

The man is currently receiving treatment for smoke inhalation at a hospital, but is expected to be booked.  The home's owner does not live in the area and says he thought the house was empty.

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