Marijuana plants found after massive warehouse fire - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Marijuana plants found after massive warehouse fire

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - It took firefighters more than 90 minutes to knock down a two-alarm fire at a large warehouse in the Midway District Wednesday morning.

The fire broke out for unknown reasons in a 10,000-square foot concrete building in the 3400 block of Hancock Street near Sherman Street around 7:40 a.m., according to San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Capt. Joseph Amador.

Narrow streets and overhead power lines hindered the efforts of 70 firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze. During the fire fight, some of the firefighters were on the roof to create ventilation, while others used large ladders to hose down the flames. The fire was knocked down at about 9:15 a.m.

A massive plume of thick, dark-colored smoke produced by the two-alarm fire could be seen from miles away. The fire also prompted the evacuation of dozens of people from nearby businesses. Some people said they felt the intense heat from across the street and heard explosions. 

Investigators discovered several marijuana plants inside the warehouse which is now sparking a separate investigation. The plants were found near a cinder block wall near the rear of the warehouse, according to San Diego Fire officials. 

Narcotics officers with the San Diego Police Department have now taken custody of those plants. 

"I was getting really scared because we have cars out here and they have cars in there too. I think something just blew up in there too,” said Joseph Sartuche, who was one of the people evacuated.

"Our building was starting to get hot, so that's how hot it was. That's why we had to evacuate,” said Sulieman Ali who also captured cell phone video of the flames. (Watch the video in the above video player)

One business owner, who sold new and used machine tools, lost his business in the fire and suffered $100,000 in damages. He just got engaged Tuesday night and seemed to be taking the situation in stride: 

"I got a call this morning that my building was on fire, believe it or not from an arson investigator who I had sold a machine tool. My son is due January 25. This is an odd thing to have taken place."

This owner told CBS News 8 that he plans to rebuild his business.

No injuries were immediately reported. The building sustained major damage, but firefighters were able to protect neighboring businesses, Amador said. The cause remains under investigation.

At the time of the fire, San Diego police asked motorists to avoid the area. Hancock Street was closed between Sherman and Kurtz streets.

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