Sophisticated marijuana grow in Detroit sparks house fire, prompts hazmat response

File photo by Steve Neavling.

Detroit firefighters summoned a hazardous materials team to a west-side house that was teeming with marijuana plants maintained by a sophisticated growing system Wednesday evening.

“It’s not a regular grow house,” a firefighter said from inside the burning house at 2932 Sturtevant. “They got plants everywhere.”

2932 Sturtevant via Google Maps.
2932 Sturtevant via Google Maps.

Firefighters were called to the two-story brick house at 8:09 p.m. Wednesday and found a fire on the second floor, where plants were meticulously spread across several rooms, including the kitchen. Fertilizers and other chemicals were in unmarked containers.

“There’s a chemical in a 55-gallon drum with wires and lights coming out of it,” a firefighter advised the chief. “I don’t know what’s in it.”

Not wanting to take any chances, firefighters called in a hazmat team, which determined the site was safe.

Police were on the scene immediately and have begun a criminal investigation.

No injuries were reported.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • disqus_vhLozcit3f

    People grow marijuana because, at this point, it’s effectively legal and it’s lucrative. The City has has to figure out a way to keep production facilities 1) compliant with the fire and relevant building codes 2) out of residential neighborhoods and 3) on a semi-regular inspection schedule so as to mitigate any of the challenges that it, as a legitimate business at this point, can pose to the surrounding community.

  • falseprophet

    Holy over reaction people! This appears to be a typical simple hydroponic grow operation, not a chemical meth lab. These stories are over hyped straight from the BS government propaganda agenda. It sounds like a very basic and simple hydroponic setup no one took the time or care to watch. These guys aren’t splitting atoms, they are simply growing plants with an autonomic nutrient perfect watering system. Sophistication is the last term to describe them, especially if they failed.

  • Paul

    Used to grow professionally. To me it sounds like the 55-gallon drum is a hydroponic reservoir, probably harmless – there’s dangerous stuff in there like phosphorous but it’s measured in parts per million. Still can’t be too safe though.

    Regarding fire safety in grow houses, from what I’ve seen it becomes a significant problem as grows get bigger, because many growers don’t want to contact proper electricians.

    The things I’ve seen cause fires are: using an extension cord that’s too thin, overloading a circuit (I.e: circuit keeps blowing, better put a higher amp fuze in! I wish I was kidding… Stoner logic…) and, although I can’t confirm this, I’ve heard of the magnetic ballasts catching fire.

    Never stole power when I was doing it. We were honest crooks

    It’s really scaling the grow up where you run into the most problems. I’ll never forget when we moved into our first commercial building and I discovered that “three phase power” was a thing, and spent days googling and reading about what to do with it

    • disqus_vhLozcit3f

      Exactly. If we start treating this like a legitimate business, which, at this point, it really is, we’d be better able to regulate the safety ramifications that come along with it. Let’s just pull our heads out of the sand and put our big boy pants on when it comes to the fact that people grow pot because there’s such a demand for it.

  • Billy Blake

    If it was such a sophisticated growing system then why did it catch fire. I think the growers need to rethink their sophisticated technique to be successful entrepreneus.