Local News

Barn fire burns pot-growing operation

Posted August 8, 2008 6:08 p.m. EDT
Updated August 8, 2008 10:51 p.m. EDT

— Firefighters entering a burned house to check for hot spots Friday got a surprise find: dozens of marijuana plants.

Crews responded to calls about a fire in an outbuilding at Bagley and Lowell Mill roads, between Micro and Kenly, around 2:30 p.m. Witnesses at a nearby truck stop said it took firefighters about 15 minutes to put out the blaze, and then the barn collapsed.

The fire spread to a nearby house and melted the siding off it, so firefighters entered it, said Capt. Craig Fish, with the Johnston County Sheriff's Office.

Inside, firefighters found what appeared to be a grow with 70 marijuana plants, narcotics agents said. Another 50 to 60 plants inside the barn were burned.

Narcotics agents estimated that the plants, between 2 1/2 and four feet tall, were worth around $2,400 a piece.

Agents said it appears that the owners were tearing out more of the barn to extend the grow area. The barn also contained growing equipment worth thousands of dollars.

Authorities believe that illegal immigrants ran the operation. Agents said they have several suspects but have not made any arrests.