No chooks just dope in the blazing henhouse

Wednesday 28 February 2007, 7:49PM

By Sam Farrow



Auckland firefighters racing to rescue a shed full of chickens during an early morning fire this morning were surprised when instead of finding distressed hens they discovered 1000 cannabis plants.

Police spokesman Kevin Loughlin told NZPA firefighters were called to the blaze at the Barretts Road chicken shed in Riverhead, 31km northwest of Auckland, at 5.30am.

"On arrival at the property the fire service discovered there was a significant number of cannabis plants there and consequently alerted police."

The find surprised the firefighters, who were expecting to free a barn of birds, Mr Loughlin said.

"There were no chickens on the property -- no lives were lost," he said.

The cause of the fire was an overloaded switchboard.

"There was obviously a significant voltage of power goimg through there."

Mr Loughlin said police had estimated the haul to be as many as 1000 plants -- most of which survived the blaze.

There was nobody at the property at the time and police were making investigations as to who the owner was, Mr Loughlin said.