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Joint investigation of suspicious fire

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Stoneham, Massachusetts firefighters quickly put out an early morning house fire in that community near Boston this week, only to discover that the suburban home contained a surprise not usually found in this bedroom community.

As the firefighters cleared their equipment, law enforcement officials moved in to what had been declared a crime scene. The house was found to hold over 500 cannabis plants and was apparently being used as a sophisticated marijuana growing operation. The weed was apparently growing in an apartment in the building and the person renting that apartment was not home at the time. Investigators are searching for this person, as he or she has some explaining to do

Using a residential establishment to cultivate large quantities of marijuana has become a regular occurrence. Recent reports from Arizona, California, Florida and locally in Peabody present similar stories. Instructions on how to grow cannabis at home are readily available on the Internet and use of a suburban house or apartment is the best application of “hiding in plain sight”.

Although the new Massachusetts medical marijuana laws allow for someone to grow their own supply, 500 plants is far in excess for even the most ardent stoner.

As this type of event becomes more commonplace, it is unclear if firefighters view this as hazardous duty or a perk of the job.
A “joint investigation” (pun intended) is underway involving the Stoneham Police Department, the Stoneham Fire Investigation Unit, the State Fire Marshal’s Office, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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