Neighbours flee buy to let cannabis farm fires

Neighbours have had to flee three separate blazes in buy-to-let homes used as cannabis farms by tenants.

The first, in Erdington, Birmingham, broke out in the early hours of the morning. Neighbours fled as flames spread into the roof space.

Firefighters and police later discovered a drugs gang was cultivating almost 100 cannabis plants in the home.

Fawad Bhatti, who lives next door to the cannabis farm with his three children, said the property was rented out around four months ago. He had told police he suspected drugs were being grown in the home after seeing several men taking in heaters.

Fire watch commander Patrick McGowan said the blaze was caused by an electrical fault.

Faulty wiring was also blamed for another cannabis farm fire in Shelton, Birmingham, as families were evacuated from neighbouring terraced properties.

More than 200 cannabis plants were found inside the rental property.

Another buy to let cannabis farm fire broke out in Muswell Hill, North London, again caused by faulty electrics. The remains of 25 cannabis plants were found by police, as well as high-intensity lighting and irrigation equipment.

Police are now calling for landlords and neighbours to get in touch if they suspect that buy to let properties are being used to grow drugs.

Meanwhile, in Croydon, South London, a mobile ‘weed wagon’ is raising awareness about the growing cannabis. Police have turned a decommissioned van into a cannabis farm, containing all the equipment commonly used to grow the drug.

The van will show landlords and neighbours what to look for if they spot drug growers moving equipment and plants in to a home.

Police have also raided buy to let homes in the Lincolnshire village of Keal Cotes and discovered cannabis plants with a street value of nearly £30,000.

Two neighbouring houses, owned by the same landlord, were searched, but despite two of the men involved pleading guilty in court, Recorder Nirmil Shant QC said the person responsible for setting up the farm may not have been “brought to book”.

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