Firefighters putting out a blaze in the upper part of a three-storey building in a West Cork town discovered a small cannabis factory.
The unexpected find was made at lunchtime yesterday as fire brigade units continued the damping down of a fire which broke out at the property at North St, in Skibbereen town centre.
Gardaí cordoned off the building for a technical examination.
A senior garda said cannabis plants had been found in a room along with growing paraphernalia.
“The plants were in a number of different stages of growth but a lot of them were mature and ready for harvesting,” said the garda .
A number of so-called grow factories have been found in West Cork in recent months.
Gardaí believe it is now cheaper for people to grow their own cannabis rather than buying from a dealer.
They also believe people are buying plant seeds over the internet and cultivating the cannabis themselves.
A Garda spokesman said forensic teams were trying to ascertain how the fire started, but he said initial examinations suggested it was accidental.
The spokesman added detectives were trying to establish who had been growing the plants.
“We would also be anxious to hear from anybody who may have seen any suspicious comings and going in the area over the last few months,” he said.
Anybody with any information is asked to contact Skibbereen Garda Station at 028 23088.
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