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Cannabis Factory Find At Blaze Site

The Essex Chronicle, 14th April 2006

Fire crews called to the scene of a blaze at a Rettendon industrial estate discovered a large quantity of what is believed to be cannabis plants in an industrial unit.

Essex Police scene of crime officers say a "considerable amount" of the class C drug was discovered at the Moreland Industrial Estate in Tile Works Lane. This is the second time in just over a month that drugs have been found on the estate. On March 9 officers from Chelmsford's Central Tactical Team went onto the estate with a warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

They found one of the premises being used for the cultivation of cannabis, and seized plants and equipment. A 39-year-old man from Wickford was arrested on suspicion of drug offences and has been released on police bail until May 14. Two other men, aged 44 and 37, were arrested on suspicion of stealing a vehicle, and released on police bail until April 14.

Firefighters made the latest discovery last Wednesday after breaking into industrial units to stop the fire from spreading. They are also working with police to investigate the cause of the blaze, which is believed to be suspicious.

Fire crews from Woodham Ferrers, Wickford, Baddow, Chelmsford and Hadleigh battled the fire, which spread to a number of industrial units. Their efforts were severely hampered by a lack of water and poor water pressure problems due to the rural location.

Six buildings measuring about 35m by 25m were damaged as the fire spread through a number of industrial units. Firefighters revisited the scene the next day to ensure the area was safe.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: "Officers from the police tactical team have been investigating at the scene and recovered between 260 and 270 large, well-grown plants at what appears to be a large-scale cannabis growing factory.

"We are currently investigating a possible link between this and a separate operation which took place on the same estate last month."

No arrests have been made.

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