7Investigates: Growing concern over fire risk posed by Bay Staters growing pot at home

BOSTON (WHDH) - It’s a pot problem plaguing Massachusetts neighborhoods and police fear it’s going to get worse. The danger doesn’t stem from smoking marijuana, it stems from growing it. Hank investigates these home grow hazards.

A huge fire at a home in Tewksbury, and one at a house in Taunton, and one at a residence in Harwich. Law enforcement officials tell 7News the same thing caused all the destruction.

Inside the Tewksbury home, police say they found an elaborate marijuana grow–an indoor greenhouse wired with heat lamps and an irrigation system.

In Taunton, officials made a similar discovery–another marijuana grow, this one using elaborate circuitry that overheated and caused a fire.

And in Harwich, officials suspect the fire started when a generator powering grow lights and ventilation for marijuana got overloaded.

When we asked, “Are you concerned about an increase of fires because of cannabis grows?” Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael told Hank Phillippi Ryan, “Yes, we are. It still becomes a hazard if it’s not done right.”

Chief Carmichael explained Massachusetts law does allow people over 21 to grow recreational marijuana in their home — and up to 12 plants each.

But here’s the complication: growing just a few plants requires high powered electric lights, constant irrigation, fertilizer, temperature control and heavy-duty ventilation.

Chief Carmichael calls that “a recipe for disaster.”

He showed Hank a file of evidence that he’s discovered in home grows, including draped wires, plastic sealed walls, and multiple fans.

And he says those systems can be dangerous. But he adds, the people who set them up may not necessarily be creating problems on purpose–they may just not know any better.

There are ways to grow marijuana safely, says Aaron Voog, the owner of Harvest Moon Hydroponics in Foxboro. The key is: you’ve got to know what you’re doing.

Voog says: “We’re dealing with water, we’re dealing with plants, we’re dealing with electricity at the same time, it becomes extra important that electricity is treated with respect that way, because water and electricity as we know does not mix.”

His shop offers customers industrial plugs, safe wiring, efficient lights, and protective environments, He also he suggests calling in a licensed electrician–because, as he says, “We’d like for them to be able to learn the lesson without the fire.”

Problem is, police say, even if you’re careful, what if you’re living next door to someone who isn’t?

As Chief Carmichael put it, “The only way they may find out is the day there’s an explosion or a fire.”

State regulators have created guidelines for home grows. But we found none of those guidelines include information on how to grow marijuana safely.

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