Illegal pot grows: What happens after police leave?
By RYAN SEVERANCE
Jul. 15, 2017
PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) — The elaborately rigged electrical systems present at many of the 29 homes in Pueblo West and other areas of the county that the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office raided for illegal marijuana grows last year have, with the exception of one, been removed and the homes brought back to standards required by the Pueblo Regional Building Department.
Mold problems still exist at one of the residences, according to the Pueblo City-County Health Department.
One Pueblo West home had such an expansive electrical system that it caused a fire.
On April 14, 2016, deputies responded to a grass fire and later determined that a transformer blew because it was pulling too much electricity to the home. Investigators found extra equipment connected to the electrical box, which led to the discovery of an illegal marijuana grow at the house.
The monthly electric bill at that home was over $1,500, approximately five times that of an average single-family residence.
Dave Vaughn, of the Pueblo Regional Building Department, noted that all of the homes that had electrical issues have been brought back up to standard, with the exception of one home. Vaughn said electrical repairs at that residence still need to be made, but that the issue is centralized to a panel in a closet.
The Pueblo Regional Building Department was not called to every home where a pot grow bust took place: only the houses they were needed to inspect.
"The electrical problems were a real mess, but it doesn't take long to fix," Vaughn said. "All you have to do is remove all that stuff they put in there and take it right back to the panel and button it all back up like it was supposed to be and get back in business. Usually it's a five- to six-hour project to get it back to normal."
Sarah Joseph, public information officer for the Pueblo City-County Health Department, said the health department was called by the sheriff's office to a home in Pueblo West after it was discovered that mold was visible on interior and exterior walls.
She said the health department placarded the home due to extensive water damage and mold growth and that the home remained placarded as of Thursday. The house being placarded means the health department put a sign on the home warning about the issues and making it clear it can't be accessed, Joseph said. The owner can go into the home to make repairs and remove mold, but the home can't be lived in until the situation is cleared up
"In order for mold to grow, there has to be extensive water or enough water to be the food for the mold," Joseph said. "So in this house, not only did we find a lot of water, but that led to the growth of mold. In order for the mold to be removed and no longer have a food source to grow, that amount of water would have to be removed."
The owner of the home, who is living in Denver, said the mold issues have been resolved, and she's attempting to sell the property.
Joseph said on Thursday that the owner recently contacted the health department, and arrangements are being made for officials to inspect the residence.
"If it is brought up to code, then we will sign off on it," Joseph said.
Once the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office raided the homes, confiscated the illegally grown marijuana and any related products, including grow equipment, the fate of the homes was up to the homeowners.
Those owners who were arrested can go back to living at the home once they bond out of jail.
If those who were arrested for an illegal grow were renting, it's up to the landlord to determine whether they can continue living in the homes.
Information from: The Pueblo Chieftain, http://www.chieftain.com