Drugs found at blaze house

A SUSPECTED drugs factory has been discovered by firefighters tackling a blaze at a house in the Essex countryside. Two crews were called to a chalet bungalow in Tolleshunt D'Arcy after flames were seen coming from the roof just after 7am.

A SUSPECTED drugs factory has been discovered by firefighters tackling a blaze at a house in the Essex countryside.

Two crews were called to a chalet bungalow in Tolleshunt D'Arcy after flames were seen coming from the roof just after 7am.

Firefighters from Tiptree and Tollesbury were first on the scene but could not enter until what appeared to be faulty electrics had been made safe.

But once inside the remote property they discovered rooms filled with hydroponics and UV lighting, equipment often used to grow cannabis.


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More crews from across the county arrived and brought the blaze under control by about 9.20am and remained at the house damping down.

Justin Johnston, divisional officer with Essex Fire and Rescue Service, said when they arrived flames were breaking through the roof.

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He said: “Because it was not known if anyone was in the house it became a 'persons reported' and we had to do a search.

“Crews found what they suspected to be a cannabis factory, it appeared to be a significant operation with lights, hydroponics, and there was an increased electricity supply.”

He said once they knew nobody was inside, and realised what the house was being used for, the efforts to put out the fire continued from outside while attempting to preserve as much of the evidence as possible.

An Essex Police spokeswoman said: “Firefighters tackling the blaze discovered the chalet bungalow appeared to be being used for the cultivation of cannabis.

“A substantial number of plants and cultivation equipment were inside the premises.”

A 35-year-old man from north London was arrested at the scene on suspicion of cultivation or allowing the cultivation of illegal drug and was still being questioned by police last night.

The East of England Ambulance Service remained at the scene on standby in case anyone was found in the house or to treat any firefighters had they been injured.

Anyone with information about the fire or the drugs operation should call police in Chelmsford on 01245 491491.

n A LANDLORD was shocked to find the house he was renting out had been converted to support a cannabis-growing operation in Stebbing near Dunmow.

The man found a large number of cannabis plants at the house in Gardenfields on Friday at about 1pm and immediately reported it to police.

The exact number of plants has not been revealed but police said it was a “large” amount alongside equipment for cultivation of the plants.

Police would now like to speak to the people renting the property and have asked for anyone with information to call Detective Sergeant Bev Fenning on 01371 872208 or Saffron Walden police station on 01799 513232.

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