House Fire Leads To Marijuana Discovery

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Not only did a house go up in smoke Thursday morning, but also a large-scale marijuana grow, according to Athens County officials.

The marijuana was discovered as firefighters were extinguishing a structure fire at 12905 N. Peach Ridge Road in Athens.

After firefighters were able to tend to the fire, the Athens County Sheriff’s Office deputies and the Athens Major Crimes Unit was called to begin an investigation into a reported 146 marijuana plants, according to a news release by the unit, made up of the Athens County Sheriff’s Office, the Athens County Prosecutor’s Office, the Athens Police Department, the Ohio University Police Department and the Nelsonville Police Department.

Based on evidence “viewed in plain sight,” investigators obtained a search warrant.

“A detailed search of the scene was conducted and 146 marijuana plants were recovered, ranging in development from starters to ones nearly ready to harvest,” the release stated.

Investigators also recovered light and ventilation systems, scales and almost one pound of “finished dried product,” according to the release.

The resident was identified and has been named the suspect in the investigation, however the resident’s name was not released by law enforcement.

“It is believed that the resident fled the area after another person knocked on his door to inform him about smoke coming from the house,” the unit release stated.

Sheriff Rodney Smith was quoted in the release, saying it is unknown if the marijuana operation is connected to the fire or if it caused it. An investigator with the Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene and is currently investigating, Smith stated.

” It is not uncommon for the electrical work associated with these indoor marijuana growing operations known as ‘ad hock,’ to cause issues resulting in fires and other damage,” according to the release.

The residence was a rental, but investigators do not suspect involvement of the landlord in the operation.