A late night fire in a rural area between Farmington and Escalon gave firefighters – and law enforcement personnel – more than they bargained for.
The fire, in the 11000 block of Van Allen Road, near the intersection of Mariposa and Van Allen, destroyed a couple of barns and also led to the discovery of several hundred pounds of marijuana.
San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow said the first firefighters responding to the call shortly before 11 p.m. on Dec. 15 contacted authorities when they discovered grow houses behind the barns.
“There were three hoop houses, kind of a half dome structure covered with plastic,” explained Withrow. “They had 100 plants in each and one of the hoop houses had heaters.”
Withrow said it is believed that a heater may have started the fire.
“It is an ongoing investigation,” the sheriff added. “No one was in the house (on the property) when the fire department got there. The front and back doors of the house were open and we found 400 pounds of processed marijuana in bags and ready to sell.”
Estimated value of the marijuana was $400,000, according to authorities, and there was also some fentanyl found in the home as well.
Withrow said the Metro Narcotics Task Force is handling the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the task force at 209-953-1100.
Farmington Fire Department was first on scene and called in an engine from Escalon Fire Department and a water tender from Collegeville to assist in the firefighting effort.
“They have some leads,” Withrow added of the task force, “and they will continue to follow up on that.”