ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) -- Contra Costa County Firefighters discovered a large marijuana grow operation while responding to a fire on Bugle Way in Antioch Sunday afternoon.
Fire investigators say they immediately knew there was more to the smoking home when they arrived. "This was not a mom and pop operation they knew exactly what they were doing," said Contra Costa County Fire Department Battalion Chief Bob Atlas.
The first telltale sign was apparent before they even got inside. "They had put 2 by 4 wood beams behind all of the entryway doors. There was sheet rock and bars in all of the windows on the first and second floor this is what they typically do in these scenarios to keep any intruders out," said Atlas.
Their suspicions were confirmed on the second floor where they found dozens and dozens of pot plants. "Well over fifty, maybe not more than a couple of hundred," said Atlas.
Inside the garage there were bags of potting soil.
Through broken windows there were a few jackets hanging from what appeared to be a bunk-bed with no mattress. Firefighters say someone seemed to be living in the five bedroom three bathroom house, but in this case even neighbors were in the dark.
"This is very shocking," said neighbor Maher Abouseif.
Many said they never saw anyone coming or going. "We didn't know that this was happening in there so we're like oh my gosh," said neighbor Rosa Ramirez.
"How come we didn't catch this and how come we didn't know as neighbors this was happening," questioned neighbor Nakita Thomas-Allen.
Firefighters spent the afternoon putting out hot spots, followed by crews sweeping glass and preparing to board up the home, which they did by nightfall, with all the pot plants still inside.
Contra Costa County Fire Department is investigating the fire's cause and origin, while Antioch Police are taking the lead on the rest.
Even if the growers have permits, fire investigators say it appears they were illegally using power by bypassing the electric meter.
Marijuana grow found in burning Antioch home