Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Gannabis Farm May Be Cause of Blaze; Evidence of Drugs Found in Flat Where Fire Started

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Gannabis Farm May Be Cause of Blaze; Evidence of Drugs Found in Flat Where Fire Started

Article excerpt

Byline: LISA HUTCHINSON

CANNABIS farmers may have been to blame for a blaze which left this family homeless on New Year's Day.

And today fed-up Alan Richardson told how he had just rung in the New Year - and wished for better luck for 2012 - when disaster struck.

Still with celebratory drinks in their hands, Alan and his family fled for their lives as fire swept through their home from next door.

They told how the drama unfolded in front of them ... and of their surprise at news that a possible crop of cannabis plants was growing in their terrace.

"We saw in the New Year and my wife and I said to each other we hoped 2012 would bring better luck for us," revealed Alan, 42, a former labourer.

"I have been out of work for about three years and I said that I hoped our luck would change in the coming year and I would find employment.

"But only hours after saying those words we were running from our home with the kids in our arms and we watched flames engulf the roof of our house. The ceilings collapsed into the bedrooms and the kids' Christmas presents were ruined.

"We couldn't believe that 2012 started with such a disaster.

"We have since discovered that the police believe it looked as though there was a cannabis farm going on next door. We never suspected anything but this fire could have cost us our lives and it has ruined our home."

The blaze ripped through the loft and roof on the house next door before spreading through to the Richards's home at around 4.30am.

Alan, with wife Irene, 40, daughters Charlene, 17, Curly, eight, and five-yearold son Mason, managed to get out of their council-owned property.

Alan, who has just finished a forklift truck-driving course, added: "Irene rang 999 and then knocked on the elderly woman who lives on the right of us to get her out.

"The fire had started in the house on our left and flames had gone into our roof space. …

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