PITTSBURG (CBS SF) — Firefighters in Contra Costa County say illegal pot growing operations will be going up in smoke if the homes they are contained in catch fire.

Fire officials say the homes catching fire are not being used to grow medicinal marijuana, but are larger, illegal operations.

“These are not the kind of operation where somebody is using it for their own purposes for medicinal purposes but these are rather larger, if you will commercial farming operations,” said Captain Robert Marshall, of the Contra Costa County Fire Department.

35 marijuana grow houses have caught fire in the past two years in Contra Costa County, often due to improper electrical wiring used to power lights used for growing.

The wiring makes it dangerous for firefighters to go inside, so now those fires will be fought from outside, with an eye toward protecting the neighborhood.

“We’re telling them that if they get into a residential grow operation to take a much more defensive stance which means that the fires will burn longer they’ll burn hotter, until we can get PG&E there to actually secure the power,” Marshall said.

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