Police have arrested a man whose alleged marijuana grow house operation went up in flames and injured two firefighters.
On Monday, October 15 at 1:30 p.m., Louis Roman, a third floor tenant of 1656 Mayflower Avenue, was arrested by 45th Precinct police for allegedly operating a pot growing business at his residence.
Roman, 50, has been charged with assault and criminal possession of marijuana.
Law enforcement officials believe that Roman acted alone.
Approximately 12 FDNY units and 60 firefighters responded to an all-hands fire on Sunday, October 14 at 8:11 p.m. at the semi-attached brick 3-story building in Pelham Bay near the corner of Westchester Avenue.
According to FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, 12-year veteran firefighter Thomas Corcoran, who was assigned to the roof position, was climbing to the roof on a 35-foot extension ladder, but lost his footing and plummeted 30 feet to the pavement.
The 38-year-old firefighter and married father of three suffered multiple muscular and skeletal injuries, but remained conscious following the incident.
A NYPD spokeswoman clarified that Corcoran had sustained critical, but non-life threatening injuries.
EMS, who were already at the scene, rushed Corcoran to Jacobi Hospital in stable condition.
He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday at Jacobi and is receiving continued treatment.
Nigro said another firefighter had sustained a minor leg injury while combating the blaze, but is expected to recover.
“This fire went to an all-hands fire on the third floor, it traveled into the area we call the cockloft between the ceiling and the roof and the occupancy was apparently being used as a marijuana grow house on the third floor,” he explained.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze by 8:53 p.m.
A FDNY spokesman and the NYPD spokeswoman confirmed that the third floor rear apartment was being utilized as a marijuana grow house.
When the smoke cleared, NYPD and FDNY members discovered marijuana plants and heating lamps throughout the third floor.
The blaze’s cause remains under investigation by the fire marshals and NYPD Detective Squad.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, marijuana growing operations often cause extensive damage to the houses where they are maintained and are increasingly the causes of house fires, blown electrical transformers and environmental damage.
Growers frequently cut holes into floors and exterior walls to install ventilation tubes and tamper with electrical systems to supply multiple high-power grow lights and industrial air-conditioning units with no regard for fire risk or compromising the home’s structural integrity.
“(Community Board 10) is deeply concerned that the precinct may not have been aware of this grow house and we are hoping that we don’t have any more of these houses or apartments in the community,” expressed Matt Cruz, the board’s district manager.
Cruz encourages residents to contact their Neighborhood Coordination Officers about suspected grow houses.