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500 marijuana plants removed from fire-damaged Renton house
UPDATE: Renton Police investigators removed about 500 marijuana plants from the house on Tuesday, according to Deputy Fire Chief Bill Flora. Mature plants were found in three rooms, while plant starts were growing in a fourth room. The cause was electrical in nature, likely wiring that short-circuited because of too much power load, he said. Damage was estimated at $150,000 to the house and contents.
The beds were still warm, but the residents were gone, when Renton firefighters arrived at a house fire on Talbot Hill early Tuesday morning.
Instead, the fire crews found several marijuana plants growing on the first floor and second floor of the split-level home.
When they came to shut off the power to the house, crews with Puget Sound Energy discovered that someone had bypassed the electrical meter to the house.
"It was pretty obvious it was a grow operation," said Deputy Fire Chief Bill Flora.
Fire investigators have already done their inspections Tuesday morning. Flora expected to release a cause this morning, but the fire likely was accidental in nature and possibly related to the grow operation.
Renton Police detectives entered the house Tuesday morning after obtaining a search warrant to do their investigation, including the number of plants in the house.
The house is on Talbot Crest Drive South, not far from Talbot Hill Elementary School on Talbot Road South.
The fire was reported at just before 5:30 a.m. Tuesday. Arriving firefighters found flames coming from under the eaves of the upper right front corner of the house, Flora said.
The fire was extinguished quickly, he said, and the marijuana plants were discovered while firefighters were searching for occupants, who left before fire crews arrived.
Part of the investigation will determine who was living in the house.