Brandon house fire leads deputies to 31 marijuana plants

- A fire at a home in Brandon led deputies to a large marijuana growing operation Monday, according to the Hillsborgouh County Sheriff's Office. 

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue crews were already on the scene when deputies responded to the home, partially engulfed in flames, on Homewood Drive. 

Firefighters told deputies they found two rooms converted for growing marijuana while inside, fighting the fire. The rooms had multiple marijuana plants and soil-filled pots. 

Detectives executed a search warrant and said they found items used to grow marijuana, including high sodium vapor lights, ballast and fans. They also found 31 mature marijuana plants. 

The marijuana weighed about 270 pounds, valued at $540,000 if sold.

Tampa Electric Company came to the house and found an illegal electrical connection feeding in un-metered electricity. The company estimated nearly $8,800 of electricity had been stolen. Fire investigators said the illegal electrical tap was likely the cause of the fire. 

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said this was the sixteenth grow operation busted by its deputies in 2016.

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