Journalist, Cherry Park

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Cherry Park is an experienced freelance journalist and reporter who specializes in features, news, and news analysis, in print and online. She has written extensively in the areas of health and safety, fire safety, employment, HR, recruitment, rewards, pay and benefits, market research, environment, and metallurgy, and she also conducts research.
November 26, 2013

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8 Signs You’re Living Next to a Potential Cannabis Fire

If you get a persistent whiff of something strong and sickly sweet, or notice constant glaring lights in a property that seems to receive visitors at any time of day or night, you could be living or working next to one of an increasing number of potentially lethal illegal cannabis factories.

There is now a fire in a cannabis factory every two weeks in the UK, often causing extensive damage to the flats and houses where the factories are usually found, as well as potential harm to firefighters and risk to neighbouring residential properties.

The number of these fires has more than doubled in the last two years, says the London Fire Brigade (LFB). The fires usually occur when heat, often illegally obtained by tapping into mains electricity, bypassing the meter, causes the buildings where the cannabis plants are being grown, often hidden in lofts, to overheat.

The potential for disastrous fires caused by cannabis factories results from the huge amount of heating and lighting equipment, usually dangerously wired, that these plants require for their successful cultivation and explains why, on average, four fire engines and over 20 firefighters are needed to attend each one of the resulting extremely intense fires.

In addition to the high risk to firefighters from intense heat, cannabis fires can be more hazardous than fires that do not involve drugs, as unscrupulous growers often set booby traps for police and firefighters using false floors, barbed wire, sharp objects, and electrified door handles and windows that give serious electric shocks to the emergency services.

Eight tell-tale signs

The signs of potential cannabis farming are:

  1. A strong and sickly sweet smell
  2. Large amounts of growing equipment
  3. Constant covered or blocked-off windows
  4. Visitors at unsociable hours
  5. Strong and constant lighting day and night
  6. High levels of heat and condensation
  7. A constant buzz from ventilators
  8. A plethora of cables

Dave Brown, an LFB third officer, said:

Cannabis factory fires can be severe, due the way criminals use unsafe wiring to obtain electricity illegally in order to grow the plants. They are often in top floors or lofts, which means when a fire takes hold, it spreads, destroying roofs and damaging neighbouring buildings.

Firefighters can also be exposed to risks when dealing with the fires, due to dodgy wiring and booby traps at some of the properties.

It’s important that people know the key signs and inform the police, so that they can act swiftly to prevent these dangerous fires.

Recent cannabis fires

A firefighter was treated for burns after a cannabis fire on the upper floor of a house in Cardiff in April this year that necessitated 42 firefighters to extinguish the blaze.

In Bromley, South London, a cafe and the flat above it were extensively damaged by a cannabis fire in September. Police officers discovered more than 225 cannabis plants scattered throughout the bathroom, living room, and kitchen of the flat, as well as tents and hydroponic growing equipment. The blaze started after heat from the equipment being used to grow the cannabis caused a light to melt, setting fire to the flat.

This month, an Indian restaurant in Dudley, West Midlands, was completely destroyed by a fire in a loft containing a tent over several cannabis plants.

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Luke Bilton
Luke Bilton
November 26, 2013 4:50 pm

Empty bags of Wotsits outside the front door

Rob Ratcliff
Rob Ratcliff
November 27, 2013 7:31 am
Reply to  Luke Bilton

10. Overwhelming sense of apathy and distnict signs of paranoia among residents.

Luke Bilton
Luke Bilton
November 27, 2013 8:01 am
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

11.
Errr… what was the question? Because I had something funny to say here… give me a minute

saulsherry
saulsherry
November 27, 2013 8:02 am
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

12. The walls are moving.

Luke Bilton
Luke Bilton
November 27, 2013 8:06 am
Reply to  saulsherry

13. Noise pollution: Re-runs of Frazier and Pink Floyd being played at high volume

gerry_dunphy
gerry_dunphy
November 27, 2013 8:59 am

….you hear Dark Side Of The Moon and The Wizard Of Oz playing simultaneously….(try it)

StaceyE
StaceyE
November 30, 2013 2:18 pm
Reply to  Luke Bilton

@ Luke
HA! Wotsits and tweenkie wrappers.

StaceyE
StaceyE
November 30, 2013 2:21 pm
Reply to  gerry_dunphy


I think if they are listening to Dark Side of the Moon and watching Wizard of Oz simulataneously there is something a little more psychedelic going on there than a cannibas factory…LOL…;)

holmesd
holmesd
December 3, 2013 7:43 am
Reply to  Luke Bilton

Shell suits!!!

batye
batye
December 12, 2013 4:07 am
Reply to  Rob Ratcliff

it sad and scarry… in my books – say No to any drugs as for human brain to operate properly… we are – what we put in our body… healthy body = healthy mind… simple… drugs growups always create hazard and fire safety violations…

SunitaT
SunitaT
December 23, 2013 12:53 am

It is appalling to see how these illegal growers put their own lives and the lives of their neighbors at risk. It quite obvious they don’t have any regard for the lives of their neighbors for whom they are hazardous anyway by producing cannabis. What is more alarming is that they seem to have no care for their own lives as well. Is it that they are not aware of the potential risks? I don’t think so.

SunitaT
SunitaT
December 23, 2013 12:53 am

@ Luke Bilton, you seem to be very familiar of these gloomy flats because of the confidence with which you are adding to the signs of such places  On the serious note though, if such places are so noticeable with such clear signs that can be detected very easily, why are they escaping the eye of the concerned law enforcement agencies in the first place?

DCDRAGON
DCDRAGON
August 23, 2016 10:39 am

Iv been reporting for well over a year constant daily hum and drone with suspicious goings on next door also the impact on my wellbeing from the noise pollution. .health and safety always come to mind also ..so I’m left wondering why hasn’t the police the council and the environment agency acted upon this its unbelievable

Dawn
Dawn
April 21, 2017 12:17 am
Reply to  SunitaT

3 years iv been living next door to the drone and buzz of a suspected canabis farm my life has been a nightmare due to the inconsiderate selfish disfunctional nieghbours from hell and the authorities don’t want to know or seem not to iv lost my good health and my job I enjoy doing is suffering due to the fact iv had to turn down alot as I’m stressed and sleep deprived