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CALIFORNIA - Where There's Fire, There's Smoke, As In Marijuana

  • By Tom Abate

  • Fire in a warehouse on 143rd Avenue leads to discovery of a pot growing operation in the warehouse next door.

  • Firefighters responding to a two-alarm blaze in a warehouse on the 600 block of 143rd Street early Tuesday morning found a marijuana growing operation in the warehouse next door.
    According to San Leandro Police Department spokesman Sgt. Mike Sobek, police discovered about 300 plants with a street value of approximately $65,000 and roughly $20,000 worth of harvesting/cultivation equipment.
    Sobek said the incident began just after midnight Tuesday, when a police officer noticed smoke coming from a commercial building at 645 143rd Ave.
    The officer called the Alameda County Fire Department.
    To fight the blaze, firefighters had to force their way into the adjoining warehouse at 641 143rd Ave. to determine if the fire was completely extinguished and to look for any potential victims.
    They didn't find anyone, but they did discover the grow operation and notified San Leandro's vice and narcotics squad.
    Officers obtained a search warrant for the warehouse and began an investigation into the growing operation.
    Rusty Snow, who owns the u-shaped property that is divided into several warehouses, was on the site Tuesday afternoon, surveying the fire damage.
    He said he knew nothing about any grow operation. He said he had leased the warehouse in question to a contracting firm. He declined to name the tenant.
    Contractor Bryan Kang, who has the space next to the alleged growing site, said he recalls that his neighbors moved into several months ago.
    Other than meeting them when they first moved in, Kang said he never saw anyone coming or going.
    "Bad luck for them," Kang said of the fire that uncovered the alleged operation.
    Police said the investigation is continuing.
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