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HOLLISTER — Hollister police and firefighters responded quickly to a fire that had broken out, believing it to be the result of a meth lab accident and fearing the incendiary nature of chemicals and equipment often used in said labs. Once the fire was out, however, they discovered a large-scale illegal marijuana grow operation.
On the afternoon of July 26, authorities were dispatched to a home in the 1100 block of Mulberry Court. Their prompt response allowed them to prevent the fire from spreading to surrounding homes.
The cause of the fire is believed to have been the result of an illegal diversion of electricity to bypass the PG&E system, as additional electricity was needed to operate large fans and extra lights for the operation.
The Unified Narcotics Enforcement Team seized a total of 502 marijuana plants and other evidence related to the operation. The house was quickly deemed uninhabitable due to the structural changes, holes in the floors, and damage from the fire.
Authorities also found evidence that fertilizers and other chemicals were disposed of in the city’s sewage system because of stains discovered in and around drains in the home.