Barn fire leads to grow operation discovery

The investigation continues regarding a large-scale marijuana grow operation found south of Creswell.

An Oct. 19 fire at a barn south of Creswell led authorities to discover evidence of a large-scale marijuana grow operation inside the structure.

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) along with several local fire agencies responded to a report of a structure fire on the northeast corner of the barn.

Deputies executed a search warrant the following morning and seized a high volume of marijuana. More than 2,000 marijuana plants were seized and more than 200 pounds had been processed and ready to sell. The local street market value was estimated to be more than $2 million.

“The value if sold outside the State of Oregon could easily be tripled,” stated LCSO in a press release.

Investigators also obtained evidence that the operation was unlicensed and non-medical.

South Lane County Fire and Rescue (SLCFR) as well as fire crews from Goshen, Dexter, Lorane and North Douglas County were on the scene.

“They knocked it down pretty quick with one attack line,” said SLCFR Fire Chief John Wooten of his crew’s handling of the fire. “They didn’t go in the structure too far, which was a good call.”

The fire was under control within 10 to 15 minutes, Wooten said. Because of automatic aid agreements, he added that it’s typical for multiple agencies to respond when there is a structure fire, no matter the size.

“The operating philosophy is: Have it. If you don’t need it, send it home,” he said.

SLCFR partnered with the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office, Oregon State Police’s Arson Unit and LCSO to investigate the cause and origin of the fire.

“We weren’t able to get an exact cause on that fire,” said Wooten, “but we think one of the possible causes was the overloaded electrical circuitry in the building. … They were drawing way more volts than what would be standard for that building.”

Two SLCFR crew members sustained minor hand injuries while responding to the fire.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 26, LCSO told The Sentinel the case was still under investigation and no arrests had been made.

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