FIREFIGHTERS carried out a dramatic demonstration of the deadly risk to the public of cannabis farms by setting one alight.

A mock-up of a sophisticated cannabis farm in a house was built at their training facility in Croxteth.

It was then set on fire to show what can happen when dangerous wiring is used to bypass the electricity meter.

As the fire quickly spread it showed the potential dangers to anyone who may have been living in neighbouring homes.

St Helens Star:

  • BLAZE: The demonstration shows what can happen when dangerous wiring is used to bypass the electricity meter

Between January 2011 and December 2013 firefighters were called to 73 fires in cannabis farms across Merseyside, three of which were in St Helens.

Crimestoppers has teamed up with the fire service to help educate people about the tell tale signs of cannabis close to their homes.

Thousands of scratch and sniff cards have been handed out in ‘hotspot’ areas.

Of the 73 fires 19 involved an electricity supply including wiring, cables, plugs, batteries and generators.

Eight fires were due to electrical lighting.

St Helens Star:

  • Area manager Myles Platt from the fire service and Det Chief Sup Paul Richardson (Pic courtesy Tony Thomas) 

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Richardson, from Matrix Serious Organised Crime, said: "Cannabis is not a harmless drug and its production is large in scale and large in profit here in Merseyside as well as elsewhere in the country.

"The quantities that are being grown in here means it is rarely people doing it to feed their own casual habit.

"It is organised criminal gangs who are setting them up and controlling them. This is bringing associated problems such as violent crime and gun crime to the streets of our communities as these criminals seek to steal each other's crops and money.”