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Dogs, Power Outage, Smoke, Fire, Grow House
Old 07-22-2010, 09:26 AM   #1
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Dogs, Power Outage, Smoke, Fire, Grow House

This story is related to this thread:

Need Help: Neighbor Dog Problem

which you can consult for background.

Outside in my Underwear

Yesterday morning at 4 AM we were awakened by what I thought was our garage door opener. I'm thinking "who could be operating our garage door at 4 AM," so I get up and switch on the light. It comes on for a second, and then all the power goes out.

The noise is continuing, so I grab the flashlight and go downstairs. The garage door motor is not involved, and the noise is coming from the electrical panel outside. I head out there (in my underwear) and switch off the main. But the noise continues intermittently.

I can't see any other problems, so I go back to bed, put in earplugs, and go back to sleep.

You Must Call 911

We wake up at seven, and there's a noticeable electrical burning smell in the air. I call the power company (PG&E), but when I mention the burning smell, she says that I must call 911, and that they won't do anything until I do, which is reasonable.

Four firemen show up, check around, and declare things as safe. I also notice that power is out in about six houses. The power company guys show up, find some transformer and other problems, and tell us it will take a few hours to fix. So we do what we usually do in this situation: we get out of town. We took a nice day trip to the sunny, warm hinterlands.

Fireworks

We missed the excitement when PG&E reconnected the power: smoke and flames came out of the holes they'd dug to get to the underground cables. Things were shut off again.

When we get back at 3 PM, PG&E had discovered that the cables to the neighbor's house (the one with the problem dogs) had burned up underground, and burned ours, which traveled right above theirs. The smell traveled through the conduits, and into our house and another neighbor's house.

PG&E gets our electricity reconnected, then hooks up the bad neighbor's wires. BTW, the bad neighbor is nowhere in sight. Neither the woman or her son appear, although they've always seemed to be at home.

Grow House

When they connect the neighbor's house, their meter starts spinning at 90 MPH. IOW, that house is using a LOT of power.

So, the theory is that the tenant was running a grow house, and that the excessive power usage caused the power outage. My good neighbor and I have both called the landlord, and told him we won't tolerate this, and the landlord says he'll start the eviction right away.

This is great news, since those dogs have been a big problem lately, waking me up several times a week.

This shows how serious the grow house issue is in this area. Our neighborhood has been a small seaside community with quiet people and a number or retirees. There are two other suspected grow houses in the area now, and I'm going to see what can be done to shut them down.
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Old 07-22-2010, 10:17 AM   #2
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Wow...we had a recent epidemic of grow houses in my town earlier this summer. Most were discovered in nice neighborhoods with very unsuspecting neighbors. From what I've read, the grow houses were really trashed...mold covering everything, walls knock down or with hugh holes - for air circulation. Some homes were very nice, at one time. Some houses were rentals and some were owned by the ring leader. One of the tip offs was windows being blackened out in some manner and of course excessive electricity usage.
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:13 AM   #3
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If you can find it, watch the "Holmes on Homes" episode - Gone To Pot. The clips I found online were about the repair process, the astounding part for me was the tour of the house when they first got there, what a grow house entails and how it ruins a house.

In this one the growers cut a hole in the wall and tapped into the electric before the meter. YIKES!
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:27 AM   #4
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Grow house. Is that where they grow little houses into big houses, or a method of getting into the big house?

I guess unless they are caught frying the power feed, power companies are happy to sell more power and hence more profits. Assuming these enterprising folks actually pay the bill before moving on or into the Big House.

On second thought, maybe these slick folks just use big jumper cables before the breaker, like so many in the Dominican Republic, but there they try steal power off the power pole. That would explain the fried feeder.
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:50 AM   #5
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Here's a story I found interesting because years ago I knew a little old lady who lived in the second block mentioned. People referred to her as "the neat lady," maybe she was a sort of Mrs. Madrigal from "Tales of the City."

S.F. pot bust results in 222 plants seized
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:59 AM   #6
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Holy smokes!
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:08 PM   #7
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check out this video showing what a grow house looks like inside
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:14 PM   #8
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More proof that Prohibition the War On Drugs isn't working...
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:35 PM   #9
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The PG&E (power company) guy that came yesterday said that 30-40% of the work that PG&E does is related to fixing problems caused by grow houses. This problem occupied about five guys and several trucks all day.

Some say that if marijuana is legalized it California, it will put these houses out of business because the profit margin will drop so dramatically.
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Old 07-22-2010, 12:46 PM   #10
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The landlord gave them the 24-hour inspection notice last night, and I talked to him today. He says he'll evict even if things are cleaned up, since there were modifications to the power system.

I haven't heard or seen any activity from the house since the outage began. I think it's possible that they've absconded. No one came out of the house at any time while the power company guys were working.
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Old 07-22-2010, 06:10 PM   #11
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Sounds like they tap into the utility side of the meter to avoid detection, plus get free electricity.

That's real dangerous, but if you know what you are doing, not really all that tough to do safely. And you should not attempt it under the influence of anything mind altering/numbing!

-ERD50
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Old 07-22-2010, 06:48 PM   #12
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There have been a lot of grow houses discovered in the county where I live. Apparently there was at least 1 major ring with lots of houses. Once discovered, the neighbors would report that they noticed strange things going on before the houses were discovered. It sounded like a huge problem for awhile. I haven't read anything in the local papers lately.

I hope the people are gone already so you don't have to wait for evictions next door, Al.
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Old 07-22-2010, 07:05 PM   #13
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Wow, you always have the best stories T-Al... Do you live near the Emerald Triangle?
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Old 07-22-2010, 08:37 PM   #14
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You learn something new every day on this forum . I had no idea what a grow house was .
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Old 07-22-2010, 11:24 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by FIREdreamer View Post
Wow, you always have the best stories T-Al... Do you live near the Emerald Triangle?
+1

I was just scrolling down to say the same thing. T-AL, you have one interesting FIRE life!
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Old 07-23-2010, 06:41 AM   #16
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You learn something new every day on this forum . I had no idea what a grow house was .
Same here. We had a power outage yesterday. I better check the neighborhood.
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Old 07-23-2010, 07:23 AM   #17
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So, I take it this was not a medical marijuana grow house but more of a flee the county grow house?
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Old 07-23-2010, 10:56 AM   #18
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Do you live near the Emerald Triangle?
Yes. In it, I guess. Heard some packing up noises last night, so they are still around.
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Old 07-23-2010, 11:11 AM   #19
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I guess the police don't have these things on high priority around your parts?

Ha
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Old 07-23-2010, 11:26 AM   #20
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Wow, you always have the best stories T-Al... Do you live near the Emerald Triangle?
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Yes. In it, I guess. Heard some packing up noises last night, so they are still around.

Sounds more like the Bermuda Triangle.
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