Police are investigating whether the cause of a major house blaze, which was tackled by 35 firefighters at its height, was as a result of the property being used as a cannabis factory.
Firefighters were called to the terraced house on The Drive after neighbours reported seeing smoke.
A neighbour told The Chronicle: “There were no flames exiting the building, so the firefighters smashed the windows, only to find them boarded up from the inside. “
By this time the house was engulfed in flames with the intensity damaging part of the ground floor, half of the first floor and part of the roof. The fire completely destroyed the staircase between the ground and first floors.
These dramatic pictures show dozens of firefighters tackling the fire from the ground and air – using an extendable ladder.
Neighbouring properties had to be evacuated and the road was dug up to disconnect gas and electricity supplies.
Police have confirmed that a number of cannabis plants were found in the property.
A police spokesman said: “We are still investigating the exact cause of the fire. There have been no arrests at the moment.”
Police, paramedics, and fire crews from from Norbury, Woodside, West Norwood and surrounding fire stations attended the scene at 3.53pm on Sunday (Jan 20. They had the fire under control by 5.25pm.There were no reports of any injuries.
Another neighbour said: “The owner of the property had rented it out, but it had been sub let several times over.
“The immediate neighbours on both sides aren’t allowed home for three to four more days, but everyone else returned yesterday evening.”
The next day police were parked outside the severely fire ravaged property all day.
Shockingly ninety per cent of cannabis farms are set up in residential properties. According to London Fire Brigade the number of cannabis factory fires have been steadily increasing in recent years.
A Fire Brigade spokesman said: “Cannabis factory fires can be very severe because of the way criminals use unsafe wiring to illegally obtain electricity in order 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.
“Firefighters can also be exposed to risks when dealing with the fires because of bad wiring and booby traps at some of the properties.”