Belgian police on Sunday seized thousands of marijuana plants discovered by firefighters during an overnight blaze, but found no immediate trace of the growers.
The state-of-the-art indoor marijuana farm, which witnesses said was spread over 1,000 square metres (10,100 square feet) and featured special lighting and independent watering facilities for each plant, miraculously survived a fire that spread through two abandoned factories in the southwest town of Lessines, near Tournai.
"The cannabis plants did not suffer from the fire," Bauduin Vervaecke, head of the Lessines firefighting squad that stumbled on the illicit business, told Belga news agency.
Local mayor Pascal de Handschutter told RTL television that police seized 10,000 plants with an estimated street value of five million euros ($7 million) as the network showed officers hauling bagfuls from the building.
The find, located on the third floor of one of two empty brick buildings, was the biggest marijuana seizure in the area.
The public prosecutor in nearby Tournai, Gilles Dupuis, told Belga that officers were removing the plants one by one and would destroy them but were still on the lookout for those behind the sophisticated venture.
Dozens of firemen were called out on Saturday evening when a blaze was reported in the abandoned buildings, located in old narrow streets that forced firefighters to bring in extra water and equipment.
Date created : 2013-12-29