House fire uncovers more than $200K marijuana grow in town of Pearisburg

Police have a person of interest

By Rachel Lucas - Weekend Anchor / Reporter, Heather Butterworth - Digital Content Producer

GILES COUNTY, Va. - Firefighters uncovered an elaborate indoor marijuana grow system while battling a fire in Giles County on New Year's Day.

Pearisburg Police Chief Jackie Martin said it's one of the largest seizures he's seen in the county.

Firefighters responded to the fire at a house on the 300 block of Woodrum Street in Pearisburg just before noon on Monday.  The house is located only blocks away from the Pearisburg Police Department and Macy Mcclaugherty Elementary Middle School.

After arriving on scene, neighbors told the firefighters to be careful because they had seen the owner carrying a large number of propane tanks inside the home. Multiple tanks were recovered from the house. Police say they were being used to fuel the indoor growing system.

Investigators recovered 54 marijuana plants along with several other items they took as evidence. They don't know how many plants were destroyed in the fire. 

Police say the low estimate of the street value of the seized marijuana is $216,000. 

Sgt. Danny Ratcliffe says the entire house was wired using switchboards, timers and an indoor growing system that allowed the owner of the home to grow marijuana in pots throughout multiple rooms in the home.

Police have a person of interest but have not released a name. The owner was not living in the home at the time; but instead was using it solely for the purpose of growing marijuana, police said.

Martin said they believe the marijuana was being sold outside Giles County. The name of the person of interest is not being released pending further investigation.

The home must now be demolished, most likely at the expense of the town.

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