Fire burns Pittsburg house with marijuana-growing operation

PITTSBURG (BCN) — Police and fire personnel are investigating whether or not a marijuana growing operation contributed to a one-alarm fire at a home in Pittsburg Thursday evening, a fire official said Friday.

Police are still looking for the residents of the home, Pittsburg police Capt. Ron Raman said.

Firefighters responded to a report around 6 p.m. of a fire in the 300 block of Gull Place, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said. While en route, Marshall said fire crews could see a column of smoke emanating from the house and arrived to find the attached garage and the front of the home engulfed in flames.

Firefighters quickly discovered a downed power line that was extended across a gas pipe and was creating sparks and fire, Marshall said. The live wire energized some pipes that transferred the electricity to the ground, which was wet from firefighters hosing the house, Marshall said.

Two firefighters tried to put a ladder up to battle the blaze on the roof of the home, but Marshall said they were met with electrical shocks.

“It jolted them but did not injure them,” Marshall said. “It caused us to have to pull back and approach the fire as a defensive fire…meaning we don’t actually commit resources to the interior. We basically fight the fire from outside and try to prevent the fire from spreading on either side.”

Marshall said PG&E crews arrived and shut off power to the block and firefighters were able to bring the fire under control within around an hour.

Once the fire was extinguished, Raman said authorities discovered a marijuana grow operation inside. As of this morning, Raman said police had seized 70 plants but still had not made contact with the residents to determine whether it was a legal growing operation.

Marshall said an initial investigation indicates the fire started in the garage, but investigators still have not determined what sparked the blaze.

“One of the things we’re looking at is whether the marijuana grow contributed to ignition of the fire,” Marshall said. The fire destroyed the garage and spread to an upstairs bedroom but Marshall said the damage upstairs was relatively minimal compared to the garage, which he called a “total loss.”

Marshall estimated the fire caused around $120,000 in damage. Police are continuing to investigate the blaze and are asking anyone with information to contact Pittsburg police at (925) 252-4067.

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