Huge fire in Surrey sends black smoke pouring into the sky

Watch: RCMP are investigating a massive fire that engulfed a Surrey barn this morning. The property is listed as a mushroom farm – but up until very recently the homeowner claims he was renting to people who ran a licensed medical marijuana grow operation. Darlene Heidemann reports

A huge fire in the Port Kells area of Surrey this morning sent black smoke pouring into the sky, which was visible across most of the Lower Mainland.

The fire started at about 9 a.m. in a barn or a warehouse and fire crews are now calling the blaze suspicious. The site is a former mushroom farm and the owner, who does not wish to be named, says it was recently the site of a medical marijuana grow-op.

Firefighters do confirm that there was at one time a legal marijuana licence on this property, but they did not know if it was still active. The owner alleges he had some tenants renting the property who did have a legal licence to grow medical marijuana. They were paying about $6,000 a month in lease fees and the owner says when he asked them to pay more rent they became very upset and were set to leave the property this morning. All of the equipment and tools had been cleaned off the property.

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The owner says the total loss of the structure is $4 million.

The structure is near 88th Avenue, between 187th and 189th Street. 88th Avenue is still closed at Harvie Road.

Assistant fire chief Steve Robinson said the fire was quickly upgraded to a second-alarm fire.

“It quickly became a defensive operation,” he says. “The fire was through the roof upon arrival so it quickly became a defensive operation. Safety of crews was paramount.”

Most of the walls of the structure fell down in the blaze and the contents are completely destroyed. Crews from five fire trucks spent hours battling the flames trying to prevent it from spreading to nearby structures and trees.

“No injures for anyone fighting this fire,” says Robinson.

Fire investigators will be following up to determine the cause of the blaze.

GALLERY: All photos by Shane MacKichan: