FIREFIGHTERS discovered a cannabis factory in Wirral after a caller said they could smell smoke.
Around 80 plants were found at the threee-storey property in New Ferry and a police investigation is ongoing.
This latest discovery brings the total number of cannabis farms found by firefighters across Merseyside to 24 since January 1 last year.
Merseyside fire service was called out at 8pm on Saturday, June 16 to the building near New Ferry Road, in New Ferry, where firefighters found a blaze on the first floor.
They informed the police about the cannabis find and a power company engineer was also called to isolate the property’s electricity supply.
The fire was extinguished just after 9.45pm – and the suspected cause of the fire was an electrical fault.
A spokesman for the Merseyside fire service incident investigation team said: “The fire was caused by a fault in electrical equipment suspected as being used for the cultivation of cannabis.
“It caused extensive fire damage to the first floor of the building.
“The incident not only put fire crews tackling the blaze and dealing with the often dangerous condition of electrics at these sites in danger, but also putting at risk neighbouring properties and members of the public.”
Two fire engines from Bromborough fire station and one from Birkenhead, along with a command unit, attended the call-out.
According to the fire service, fuse panels, electricity meters and other safety features were bypassed so criminals could tap into power supplies for lighting to help grow the plants.
But such bypasses can cause fires and pose a risk to people's lives as well as damaging property.
Myles Platt, fire service area manager for prevention and protection, said: “Electrical installations must conform to rigorous standards and rules which qualified electricians take years to learn.
“If the safety measures on electricity supplies are bypassed then it can also result in not only fire, which poses a risk to those who live nearby, but also all metal in that building could be live, raising the risks of electrocution and posing extra dangers to the emergency services called to the site.”
Superintendent Mark Harrison, of Merseyside police, said: “Cannabis is not the harmless drug it is often perceived to be and is the most used illegal drug in the UK.
“An increasing number of people who grow cannabis are directly funding dangerous organised criminal gangs.
“These gangs are often responsible for gun crime, violence and intimidation across the North West.
“People who grow cannabis often have a total disregard for the safety of others, frequently endangering the lives of those in neighbouring properties by tampering with electricity supplies and leaving live electrical cables exposed, increasing the risk of fire.”