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Firefighter Hurt Battling Fire at Suspected Marijuana Grow House in South Sacramento

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SACRAMENTO -- A scene with heavy numbers of both firefighters and police can only mean one of a few things. Most often in Sacramento, according to Sacramento Fire Department Public Information Officer Chris Harvey, it means a marijuana grow operation caught fire.

That’s what happened Monday morning around 11 a.m. at a home on the 7600 block of Denise Street in South Sacramento. Police and fire investigators are working to determine whether the grow was a legal or an illegal operation.

Theodore Basilio was riding his bike when he says he spotted the home, and the two people who lived there.

"I saw some pretty heavy looking smoke,” said Basilio. "... I asked if they called 911, they said no. I said, 'well you should call.' As soon as the fire truck came, in about a minute or two, they were gone."

Harvey says investigators are still determining the exact cause, but says there were a number of newly installed electrical wires powering lights, fans and other electronics to maintain the pot grow.

He says metal barriers on the home's doors made it tough to get in, which is often a hallmark of homes with indoor pot grows. One fire captain injured his knee trying to force entry into the home.

"We were able to finally make access through the front and the rear door, and there is some pretty heavy damage to the home inside,” said Harvey.

The home owner hopes to salvage it. He didn’t want to speak on camera but says he was renting it to the tenants and never expected to find it like this. He claims he didn’t know about the marijuana, but is at least glad nobody was hurt.

Police say the investigation often requires a thorough examination of the situation, being that the city ordinances for indoor marijuana grows differ from state law. Police officials say, however, it is unlikely the homeowner will be criminally liable if the grow is illegal –rather the tenants responsible for it would face potential charges.