FDNY find marijuana ‘Grow House’ responding to fire

‘Firefighters discovered a ‘grow farm” at 2131 Chatterton Avenue last Saturday.
Community News Group/Robert Christie

The FDNY discovered a ‘grow farm’ at 2131 Chatterton Avenue on Saturday, March 25 at 11:30 p.m.

After extinguishing a fire at the Castle Hill residence, they found numerous marijuana plants in the basement and on the first floor of the house.

Police had to wear masks while removing 10 pounds of marijuana from the residence.

Police arrested 65-year old Alberto Martinez, the building’s superintendent, who was seen by the authorities exiting the back of the house.

Martinez was charged with criminal marijuana possession and the criminal sale of marijuana, but the District Attorney’s office, dropped the charges due to insufficient evidence.

The grow house is currently under investigation by the NYC Office of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor.

According to the FDNY, fire marshals determined the blaze was an electrical fire that started as a result of an illegal connection to the electric meter.

Bronxites may remember another grow farm that resulted in an FDNY captain’s death in September 2016.

Captain Michael Fahy was a firefighter who responded to the September 27 fire at 300 W. 234th Street in Kingsbridge.

The 234th Street house exploded, injuring more than 20 people and lead to a charge of felony assault for 32-year old Garivaldi Castillo and 34-year old Julio Jose Salcedo Contrer.

Fahy died after a portion of the home’s roof fell on his head while the building was collapsing.

Castillo and Contrer were eventually charged with first and second-degree assault and first-degree criminal marijuana possession.

According to a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s office, Fahy’s death brought attention to the presence of grow houses in the Bronx.

However, she said, grow houses have been in the borough for the last few years.

In addition, she added that the operations are getting bigger.

Previously, the marijuana growers used to operate predominantly in apartment buildings.

However, now they’ve moved to private houses where they can grow the plants on each floor of the house.

FDNY spokesperson Frank Dwyer described the issues grow houses present.

“Illegal operations like this pose great dangers to firefighters and residents because the work is done without proper permits and safety guidelines and often involves tampering with electrical and water distribution systems, sealing of windows and subdividing rooms which can cut off means of egress,” Dwyer said.

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

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