2nd fire in three years at Tacoma home with marijuana grow

Staff writerJanuary 17, 2014 

Firefighters responding to a house fire near East 50th Street and McKinley Avenue in Tacoma discovered a marijuana-grow operation Thursday night.

STACIA GLENN — Staff writer

For the second time in three years, an East Tacoma home with a marijuana grow operation inside caught fire and brought firemen and police to its front door.

Investigators are still trying to determine whether electrical modifications made to support the grow caused Thursday’s blaze, which gutted the two-story house at the end of E. 50th Street near McKinley Avenue East.

No one was injured. Although witnesses reported seeing a man home when flames were spotted about 4:30 p.m., no one was there by the time fire crews arrived and investigators have been unable to locate the homeowner.

Once firefighters doused the blaze, they found evidence of a marijuana grow in a detached garage. Police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said there were about 100 plants though the investigation is ongoing.

The case will be forwarded to code enforcement officers, who will determine whether the homeowner had a license to grow medical marijuana. Prosecutors will eventually review the case and decide whether to file charges.

The homeowner does not have a criminal record in Pierce County but a former renter, Thuy Nguyen, pleaded guilty to unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance after a house fire brought a grow operation to police attention March 28, 2011.

In that incident, police found 365 plants growing in the upstairs bedrooms, basement and garage. Nguyen told police she lived rent-free in the home to watch over the grow operation for a man who visited from Canada weekly to tend to the plants, according to court records.

She did not identify the man and it’s unclear if the homeowner was involved in the original marijuana operation.

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