Firefighters dousing a one-alarm electrical fire in Richmond early this morning uncovered a large-scale marijuana grow operation of "possibly over 1,000" plants. According to KTVU, the security guard on duty last night was asleep when the fire started, but she woke up after one of her pitbulls started whining. She called in the fire around 3:30 a.m. this morning after she noticed smoke coming out of the door of the warehouse.

Neighbors reported "shady business" going on around the warehouse for at least the past year, and one police lieutenant called the operation one of the largest she has seen in Richmond with hundreds of plants and a separate processing area. The indoor grow house was outfitted with elaborate high-voltage electrical and lighting systems, which firefighters believe are to blame for this morning's blaze that caused smoke damage throughout the site at 6th and Ohio.

The security guard, meanwhile, was aware of the operation going on under her watch — in fact, she was being paid to guard it — but she is currently cooperating with police as they track down the owner of the warehouse. Both she and the owner could face charges in the serendipitous pot bust.

[SJ Merc]