Update: 10 a.m. Friday
Kelowna Mounties executed a search warrant on the residence around 5 p.m. Approximately 600 mature marijuana plants were seized from two rooms in the basement.
The entire lower floor was dedicated to the production of marijuana as the other two rooms contained water and nutrients as well as the electrical, which appeared to be professionally installed.
The cause of the fire was electrical in nature and originated in one of the growing rooms.
According to Kelowna RCMP Const. Kris Clark, this is quite common as the use of enormous amounts of electricity, combined with illegal tampering with electrical systems, can easily lead to fires.
The tenant, a Kelowna man, was detained and released without charges, but is now facing potential charges in relation to the production of a controlled substance as well as theft of electricity.
Members of the Kelowna Fire Department uncovered an illegal grow operation Thursday afternoon as they attended a house fire in the Mission.
Crews received a report of smoke and small flames coming from a house on Old Meadows Road around noon. Firefighters began an initial attack upon arrival, searching for the source of the fire.
“The second crew I sent through the garage in the basement of the house. They got about six feet into the house and found an illegal grow op,” said Tim Light, platoon captain with the Kelowna Fire Department.
“(Firefighters) were pulled out of the house and (we began) a defensive attack, trying to search for the fire through the outside of the residence.”
Light said the crews were pulled out of the house because the tampering that had been done to electrical wires posed potential danger.
“As soon as we find (a grow op), we get everybody out. Not only for the electrical hazards, but sometimes there are booby traps inside these places,” said Light.
FortisBC was called to cut off the power and gas to the house.
According to Light, the house was separated into two different dwellings, rented out by different tenants. The substantial marijuana grow op was only evident on the ground floor.
Nobody was in the house during the fire; however, the upstairs tenant arrived while crews were on the scene.
According to Light, the tenant said he had no knowledge of the grow op taking place on the floor below him.
Another neighbour said he never knew marijuana was being grown next door either.
In total, the fire department responded with three engines, one rescue vehicle and a command vehicle with 16 personnel in total.
“It’s a lot of resources for an illegal operation,” said Light.