The London Fire Brigade has issued a safety warning following new figures which show there were 12 cannabis factory fires in London in the first four months of 2019, an alarming all-time high for capital.

According to the Brigade, the number of cannabis factory fires has already almost eclipsed the total of 15 throughout 2018 and at the current rate it is likely to overtake the top figure of more than 22 blazes set five years ago.

Worryingly, the 2019 statistics also show 11 out of the 12 fires were in residential properties. This, the Brigade warns, poses a significant risk to the lives and homes of Londoners who unknowingly live next door to properties with cannabis growing in them.

As an example, a large warehouse blaze in Tottenham in May 2019 was believed to have started in a cannabis factory. The ferocious blaze caused thick plumes of smoke to bellow into the sky prompting the Brigade to warn residents to keep windows and doors closed.

Firefighters have pointed out that cannabis factories are very dangerous due to the unsafe wiring used by criminals to illegally source heating and lighting to grow the plants.

Barbed wire, false floors and electrified door handles and windows are purposely made to injure those who discover the drugs.

The Brigade is asking members of the public to take action by knowing what the signs of cannabis farming are and informing the police so they can act swiftly to prevent these dangerous fires. Signs include:

  • a strong and sickly sweet smell

  • lots of growing equipment and cables

  • blocked off windows

  • visitors at strange hours

  • bright and constant lighting

  • lots of heat and condensation

  • the constant buzz of ventilation.

Call 101, the police non-emergency number, or in an emergency dial 999. For those who wish to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Last reviewed 11 June 2019