Authorities investigate cause of massive fire in Midway District

Several businesses destroyed, pot plants found

SAN DIEGO - Firefighters who battled a massive blaze that tore through several businesses in the Midway District discovered a marijuana grow at the scene of the fire, authorities said Monday.

The fire was reported at about 5 p.m. Sunday at Fleet Welding in the 3500 block of Hancock Street.

Hazardous material teams were called to the scene and fire crews battled the flames that spread to multiple businesses.

By 6 p.m., crews had contained the fire, though smoke was still seen coming from the area.

The fire began at an auto body shop filled with car and motorcycle parts. A fiberglass store, an ambulance company, some storage sheds and SeaWorld San Diego's prop shop were also damaged.

Authorities also found rooms filled with marijuana plants inside one of the businesses.

Fire investigators are looking into the cause of the fire. Meanwhile, San Diego police are investigating who owns the marijuana grow.

A man who only wanted to be identified as Guillermo said there might have been signs marijuana was being cultivated at the business.

"We smell some … of course marijuana smell, but that was it," Guillermo said.

When the fire broke out, Guillermo said he called for help.

"We actually saw a whole bunch of smoke and of course flames," Guillermo explained. "We were kind of frightened because the shop next door that I work for, we have chemicals," he added.

The fire department estimates that the blaze caused $580,000 in damages.

SeaWorld San Diego released the following statement:

"SeaWorld San Diego sustained property damage from the fire that broke out adjacent to the park's Theming Services facility on Hancock Street Sunday evening. A large storage container used primarily for storing props and decorations for the SeaWorld's "Halloween Spooktacular" celebration was significantly damaged. There was also limited damage to a second storage container, a vehicle, fencing and other park decorations in the vicinity of the heavily damaged storage container. A cost estimate of the damage has yet to be determined."

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