Dangerous pot growing operation found after Pullman fire




Posted on January 16, 2014 at 10:18 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 16 at 10:21 PM

PULLMAN, Wash. -- Pullman Police plan to recommend charges against a renter after discovering what they call a dangerous marijuana grow operation in the man’s apartment near the Washington State University campus.

Police said the grow operation was legal but how it was done was extremely hazardous.

Early Tuesday morning, Charles Wildey smelled something burning. He looked outside, saw smoke coming from a vent of the upstairs apartment, and called 911.

Authorities said after firefighters knocked down the fire, a utility worker checking on the gas line in each apartment discovered something out of the ordinary in the apartment next to Wildey’s.

“I heard that there might be a project going on next door a growing project and they made modifications that should not have been made,” said Wildey.

Pullman Police said the Avista worker saw someone had redirected an exhaust vent from a hot water heater and furnace into a bedroom to provide heat for a medical-marijuana grow.

Police Commander Chris Tenant said the modification prevented the exhaust from venting correctly next to items in the home that could catch fire. He said this created fire and carbon monoxide hazard for the whole building but the grow operation did not cause the apartment fire.

Police plan to recommend wreckless endangerment charges to prosecutors. The man that lived in the apartment faces eviction.  Authorities now fear that more cases like this could creep up with the legalization of recreational marijuana.

“Before it was meth labs and they were blowing up or contaminating property. Now, we are dealing with a lot more grows. You can’t just damage people’s property just to do what you feel is legal now,” said Commander Chris Tenant.

Police have not arrested the man. It will be up to prosecutors to determine whether to file charges.