DOZENS of cannabis plants almost went up in smoke in a house fire on Wearside.
Members of the emergency services made the discovery after they were called to a blaze at a house in Tunstall Vale, Ashbrooke.
Police, along with fire crews and paramedics, attended the blaze at the terraced property on Monday.
Sixty-nine plants were found at the scene and officers have launched an investigation.
A spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said: “Police were informed of a fire at an address at Tunstall Vale. On arrival, it was discovered there was a cannabis farm at the property. Around 69 plants were recovered.”
Nobody was injured in the blaze, which is not thought to be connected to the operation of the drugs factory. No arrests have been made and police are trying to trace the owners of the property.
“The cause of the fire is as yet unknown,” said the spokeswoman. “However, it is not believed to be linked to the cannabis farm or started maliciously.”
The discovery of the cannabis farm is the latest on Wearside. Earlier this month, a 200-plant cannabis farm was found at a property in Rosslyn Terrace, Sunderland. Police removed the plants after they were found during a search.
Also, earlier this year, beat bobbies sniffed out a cannabis farm containing hundreds of plants worth an estimated £100,000. Officers were on patrol in the Millfield area of Sunderland when they followed their noses to the strong smell of the class B drug. When police swooped on the terraced flat in St Mark’s Road, they found 200 plants growing in the loft, along with specialist heating and lighting equipment.
Meanwhile, the force has urged the public to stay vigilant and look out for the tell-tale signs of drugs activity, including people arriving at properties at unusual hours, a pungent aroma in the area, blacked-out windows or bright lights coming from a number of windows late at night.
Anyone with information about drug use or cultivation should call the 101 non-emergency number