UPDATE: Up in smoke

Metchosin barn fire leads West Shore RCMP to arrest.

File photograph of firefighters approaching a burning cubicle during certified fire investigation training taking place at the Metchosin Fire Hall.

An early-morning blaze has lead police to an illegal grow operation and distillery.

Metchosin Fire department and the West Shore RCMP responded to a barn fire on the 1,300-block of Nield road in Metchosin at approximately 3:50 a.m. June 10, following calls of a ‘glow in the sky.’

The glow turned out to be a 20-foot by 40-foot barn with numerous propane bottles nearby completely ablaze. The fire led investigators to execute a search warrant of the residence where police confiscated 950 marijuana plants, some dried marijuana and approximately 700 litres of distilled alcohol inside various rooms inside the residence including a drying room.

A 43-year-old man well known to police with a history of marijuana cultivation was arrested by police.

“The structure was fully engulfed upon arrival at the scene,” said Metchosin fire chief Stephanie Dunlop in a release “Our priorities were to ensure any occupants were out of all the surrounding buildings, to protect any and all exposures and extinguishing any spot fires started from the flying embers.”

The property was also attended by the Langford and Sooke fire departments alongside B.C. Ambulance Services and B.C. Hydro who helped contained the blaze, keeping it away from the trees nearby. West Shore RCMP’s Cpl. Bob Pilot said grow operations like the one discovered in Metchosin cab pose risks both to the operators and potentially the public.

“The occupants of a marihuana grow operation are more susceptible to extortion and home invasion. These operations are targeted by criminals who commit home invasions to steal the crop,” Pilot said. “Furthermore, the high humidity and temperatures necessary for a grow room lead to the formation of damaging mould and fungus. This situation poses serious health risks to the residents along with the high risk of fires as a result of improper wiring.”

The suspect has been released from custody facing drug and custom and excise related charges and scheduled to appear at the Western Communities Courthouse Sept. 3.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

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