POLICE are investigating after fire crews discovered a cannabis farm while fighting a blaze at a house in the Whitecross area of Warrington.
Four fire engines were sent to the scene after nearby residents reported flames coming through the roof of the house in Collin Street.
No one was present in the property when the blaze was discovered on Saturday morning.
Firefighters had to force entry to the premises and found more than 150 cannabis plants growing inside.
Police seized the drugs and started enquiries but no arrests have yet been made.
Four fire engines were sent to the scene from Warrington, Penketh and Lymm – and an aerial platform was sent from Lymm.
Two firefighters wearing breathing apparatus used a hose reel jet to fight the flames after gas and electricity supplies had been isolated.
A fire service spokesperson said the roof space was difficult to access, which was why the aerial platform had been called in.
After the fire was out water was used to damp the roof space down and make it safe.
A thermal imaging camera was used to monitor temperatures.
Firefighters also checked neighbouring properties for any signs of the fire having spread to them.
They only left the scene after they were satisfied that the fire had not spread and the property was safe. Crews were at the scene for more than six hours.
Chief Inspector Simon Meegan, of Warrington Local Policing Unit, said: “We are pleased to have removed a significant quantity of cannabis from the streets of Warrington as we are fully aware of the negative impact illegal drug use and supply can have on communities. The house contained a large number of cannabis plants and equipment to maximise the amount of class B drugs being cultivated.As proven in this case, properties being used to grow cannabis present a fire hazard.
“Thankfully the fire did not spread to other properties and no-one was injured as a result of the fire. The consequences of this incident could have been far worse.
“We want people in Warrington to be safe and feel safe in their community and we are committed to doing all we can to put a stop to this sort of activity. But we need the public to play their part too by reporting any suspicions of properties being used as cannabis farms or any other illegal drug-related activity to the police.”
There are a number signs that could indicate that a property is being used as a cannabis farm, including:
• A strong and sickly sweet smell
• Equipment used to grow cannabis being taken into a property, such as lighting and ventilation equipment
• Constantly covered or blocked-off windows – cannabis farms often have constantly closed curtains, black-out blinds or foil coverings
• People coming and going at all hours or neighbours you never see
• Strong and constant lighting day and night
• High levels of heat and condensation – cannabis farms often give off heat and the windows stay misted up
• A constant buzz of ventilation – listen out for a whirring sound as the offenders try to create an ideal climate for cannabis plants to grow
• Lots of power cables – offenders often dig underground to lay cables that hook up to things like lamp posts so they do not have to pay for the enormous amounts of electricity they use.
Anyone with information in relation to the discovery of the cannabis farm in Collin Street should call Cheshire Constabulary on 101, quoting IML 434909, give the details via https://cheshire.police.uk/contact/general-enquiries or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.