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Nelson cannabis farm goes up in smoke
11:00am Saturday 16th March 2013 in News
AN UNDERGROUND drugs chamber was part of a ‘sophisticated’ cannabis farm uncovered when it caught fire.
Around 400 mature plants with a street value of up to £250,000 were found at the house on Belgrave Street, Nelson.
Detectives said the plants were ‘crammed into every room and hallway’ plus an area dug out under the floorboards of the front room to grow more bushes.
Firefighters were called to the terraced house at 9.02pm on Thursday after witnesses reported seeing smoke escaping from doors and windows.
They believe the smoke was caused when specialist lights installed to cultivate the plants melted plastic sheeting.
Fire crews spent around an hour at the property and alerted police and United Utilities, who ensured the elaborate electrical and hydroponic set-up was made safe.
Nobody was at the property when the fire service arrived and Detective Sgt Chris Valentine, from Pendle CID, is investigating the find.
He said: “This is one of the most sophisticated and hi-tech operations of its kind I’ve seen.
“Whoever set this up obviously knew what they were doing.
“Every room, including the kitchen and bathroom, was packed full of mature plants with the watering, lighting and feeding systems in place.
“The floorboards in the lounge had even been taken up to dig out a considerable underground chamber below to create growing space for dozens more plants.
“There were 350 to 400 plants and that would mean a street value of up to £250,000.”
DS Valentine said the investigation was in its early stages but he believed the property was rented.
He appealed to anyone who had seen any activity at the house in recent months to contact Pendle CID.
Neighbours said police were at the house most of yesterday morning.
At around lunchtime they began taking away what were described as ‘mature’ looking plants from the scene.
Residents said they were surprised at the discovery.
One resident said: “It’s normally a quiet street.
“I saw the fire service and then the police arrive on Thursday night and wondered what was going on.
“I don’t live that close to the house but I’ve walked past numerous times and had no idea.”
Another resident said: “Police and what looked like forensic experts in white coats had been at the house most of the morning.
“They must have brought out dozens of quite large, mature looking plants.”