FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno police say a fire inside a tire shop uncovered a pot grow Monday morning. Now, officers are looking to track down the person who they say ran away when the fire started.
Firefighters smelled the suspicious activity not long after they pulled up to David's Tire Shop at Blackstone and Clinton avenues in Central Fresno.
"Once they opened the door, they realized they did have a good amount of smoke but not too much of fire, and there was the aroma -- especially when we started knocking down the fire," said Pete Martinez with the Fresno Fire Department.
It wasn't the smell of burning tires; it was 100 mature marijuana plants, many on fire. Officers also found signs someone was inside when the fire broke out.
"It appears somebody was here at the time of the fire. When officers arrived, the front door was open, not just unlocked but opened, and there's a bed in there next to where the fire was, so it looks like somebody was here at the time, so we're searching for that owner," said Lt. Joe Gomez with the Fresno Police Department.
Firefighters say the smoke and fire damage to the brick building is $50,000. Police say the wholesale value of the pot was $60,000. So far, investigators say it's unclear how long the tire shop was a front for cultivating marijuana. Officers are working to track down the owner and the person who was tending to the pot. They plan to charge each with felony counts.
"The only thing that we have heard from relatives is that the business owner is out of town, in another country is what we're told. But, we don't know that; we haven't confirmed that yet," said Gomez.
Firefighters say the cause of the fire is electrical and appears to have started by overloaded outlets, used to light the marijuana.
Police are serving additional warrants related to the marijuana found there. They are looking to find out if the growers were also selling the pot. If so, that is an additional felony charge.
Marijuana grow found inside Central Fresno tire shop after fire
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