Belgian firefighters stumble on indoor marijuana farm

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Belgian police on Sunday seized more than 1,000 marijuana plants discovered by firefighters during an overnight blaze, but failed to find any immediate trace of the growers.

The state-of-the-art indoor marijuana farm, spread over 1,000 square metres and featuring independent watering facilities for every plant, miraculously survived a fire that spread through two abandoned factories in the southwest town of Lessines, near Tournai.

"The cannabis plants did not suffer from the fire," Mr Bauduin Vervaecke, head of the Lessines firefighting squad that stumbled on the illicit business, told Belga news agency.

The agency said the find, located on the third floor of one of two empty brick buildings, was the biggest marijuana seizure in the area.

The public prosecutor in nearby Tournai, Mr Gilles Dupuis, told Belga that officers were removing the plants one by one and would destroy them but were still on the lookout for those behind the sophisticated venture.

Dozens of firemen were called out on Saturday evening when a blaze was reported in the abandoned buildings, located in tiny old narrow streets that forced firefighters to bring in extra water and equipment.