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New figures released today by the London Fire Brigade show there were 12 cannabis factory fires in London in the first four months of the year putting the capital on course for an alarming high.
The number of cannabis factory fires has almost eclipsed the total of 15 throughout 2018 and at this current rate it is likely to be more than 22 blazes set five years ago. The 2019 figures also show 11 out of the 12 fires were in residential properties. This poses a significant risk to the lives and homes of Londoners who unknowingly live next door to properties with cannabis growing in them.
The large warehouse blaze in Tottenham two weeks ago was believed to have started in a cannabis factory. The ferocious blaze caused thick plumes of smoke to bellow into the sky prompting the Brigade to warn residents to keep windows and doors closed.
Cannabis factories are very dangerous due to the unsafe wiring used by criminals to illegally source heating and lighting to grow the plants. Barbed wire, false floors and electrified door handles and windows are purposely made to injure those who discover the drugs.
London Fire Brigade Deputy Commissioner and Director of Operations Tom George said: “Cannabis factory fires are very dangerous due to criminals using unsafe wiring to illegally obtain electricity to grow the plants. They’re often in top floors or lofts which means when a fire takes hold it spreads, destroying roofs and damaging neighbouring buildings.
“They pose a significant risk to our firefighters who tackle the fires and also to the people living within close proximity to them.
“We are therefore asking for members of the public to take action by knowing what the signs are and to inform the police so they can act swiftly to prevent these dangerous fires.”
The Brigade is extremely concerned about the rise of these fires and are asking people to look out for the signs of cannabis factories and to report any concerns to the police.
Superintendent Tania Coulson, from the Metropolitan Police Service, said: "The production and supply of illegal drugs harms communities, and has clear links with organised crime, gangs, and violence on London's streets.
"Every day, local Safer Neighbourhood Officers, proactive units and specialist officers are carrying out operations to identify and arrest drug offenders, and responding to local concerns and information about crime linked to drugs in their neighbourhoods.
"Cannabis farms are in themselves dangerous and pose a significant fire risk, and we are working to raise awareness amongst landlords, estate agents and the public.
“We would urge anyone who knows or suspects that a premises is being used to produce cannabis, or is otherwise used in the supply of drugs, to call police right away. With the public's help, we will continue to crack down on this type of criminality."
Members of the public who have information about anyone who is dealing drugs in their area are urged to contact their local Safer Neighbourhoods Team or dial 101, the police non emergency number.
Alternatively, if you wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. In an emergency, always dial 999.