Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Marijuana grow-op discovered after fire

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WINNIPEG police discovered a marijuana grow-op after fire crews mopped up following a string of house fires on Victor Street Saturday.

They arrested a resident, Const. Eric Hofley said Sunday.

The grow-op wasn't the cause of the fire, and in bizarre twist, the pot plants survived the blaze, police said.

"When you're called for one incident and you discover another, it's always surprising," Hofley said. "Ironically, that wasn't the cause of the fire. It's a suspicious fire but the grow-op was not the cause of it."

There was no indication the location harboured a grow-op. Nor was the man, 39, who faces drug charges, known to police, Hofley said.

His name was not disclosed, pending a promise to appear in court.

The bust netted 82 plants worth an estimated street value of $91,840, plus grow equipment worth $3,000.

The flames started in a garage behind the home at 707 Victor St. at about 5:15 a.m., spread to the house and then to the houses on either side.

Authorities were still investigating the blaze Sunday.

Hofley could not say if the location was targeted because of the grow-op.

Minutes after the garage and houses caught fire, a second blaze started behind an apartment building a few doors away on the west side of Victor Street at the corner of Wellington Avenue.

The fires caused $400,000 in damage to three houses on the east side of Victor and $30,000 in damage to an apartment building on the west side.

Meanwhile, careless smoking was determined to be the cause of an apartment fire Saturday that forced the temporary evacuation of a Manitoba Housing apartment block on Main Street.

Several people in the apartment building were taken to hospital in stable condition after being exposed to smoke, but there were no injuries to the residents of the three houses.

A 77-year-old man who was taken to hospital in unstable condition after the Saturday afternoon fire was reported in stable condition Sunday.

Police said careless smoking was the cause of the blaze.

Police said they tracked the origin of the fire to a suite on the fifth floor.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 7, 2013 B3

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