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SMOKING POT: MARIJUANA IN HOUSE FIRE

A group of alleged marijuana growers watched their crop go up in smoke early Saturday after heat lamps and an electrical transformer caught fire inside their Draper home - destroying most of the plants and nearly gutting the 80-year-old house.

There were no injuries, although several residents were arrested for investigation of cultivating a controlled substance.Crews from several area fire agencies responded to the blaze at 11600 S. 840 East about 3:24 a.m. after residents called 911.

"We had a difficult time getting inside to the fire because the front door and several of the windows had been sealed with aluminum siding," said Draper City Fire Marshall Dave Petersen.

"We finally had to cut a hole in the side of the house just so we could gain entry. I guess the people living in the house used some type of entrance in the back."

Firefighters spent almost 21/2 hours battling the flames - their efforts hindered by the home's maze-like layout.

"It was really a weird house, we found hidden rooms and hidden doors that led to catacombs," said Petersen. "It was evident that there had been additions built onto additions in the home."

Damage was estimated at $100,000, although investigators don't know the value of the charred marijuana plants. In all, two growing rooms were discovered, said Petersen.

Neighbors called the home a frequent party spot, saying that young people were always seen coming and going in and out of the old house.

"I've heard the homeowner is good about taking people in who are having trouble paying their rent," said one area resident who asked not to be named. "Everyone who lives in the home pretty much keeps to themselves. I kind of feel sorry for them."