NIAGARA FALLS – A fire in the city led to the discovery of a large marijuana grow operation in a vacant house in the 1200 block of 19th Street.
“It wasn’t the largest we’ve ever seen, but it was certainly the most sophisticated,” said Narcotics Investigation Capt. Theodore Weed.
He said firefighters had cut a hole in a wall to check for fire in an adjoining apartment building at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, but instead of fire they found the marijuana and called in narcotics investigators.
Weed said there was two floors of potted marijuana, more than 70 plants, in various stages of growth.
“I couldn’t even guess how many pounds per plant,” he said of the yield.
He said police found a sophisticated operation with about $50,000 worth of equipment, including a water irrigation system, a separate furnace, duct work that vented to the roof, elaborate lighting and wireless cameras with long distance routers.
The growers also were removing their own garbage and had hot-wired the power directly to a National Grid pole, so there would be no noticeable spikes.
Weed said that unfortunately they were able to fly under the radar because no one was checking the house, which has an out-of-town owner.
Weed said Wednesday that the investigation is continuing.