A YOUNG Blackpool family were lucky to escape with their lives after a deadly cannabis factory burst into flames.
Had it not been for the quick-thinking actions of three police officers a 38-year-old father and his children – aged five and eight – may have perished.
The officers were on Buchanan Street when they spotted smoke pouring from a first floor flat.
They managed to raise the alarm and get the family – who lived in the flat below the fire – out before they were overcome by smoke.
It is thought the blaze was sparked when the electrics rigged up in the drugs factory – which housed 150 plants – over-heated.
Insp Laura Lawler of Blackpool Police said: “The prompt actions of the officers involved meant this family escaped any injury.
“They were unaware of what was happening on the floor above them and there could have been far more serious consequences if they had not got out when they did. They have now been re-homed.”
The blaze broke out at around 9.50am on Saturday. PC Beckie Herbert was driving along Buchanan Street when she spotted smoke pouring from a first floor bedroom window.
She quickly alerted the family in the flat below while two other officers PC Danny Holt and PC Steve Talbot – fearing other residents were trapped – kicked the door down to the first floor flat.
PC Holt, of Blackpool Police, said: “As soon as we got inside we could tell it was a cannabis factory. The doors were covered with black cloaks and we could see the equipment. Two rooms had fairly mature sized plants in them.
“There was a lot of thick, black smoke and the flames were behind the cloak.
“If the flames had got to the joists of the property, the fire had potential to spread and that young family were downstairs.
“The family were quite shocked. The kids were still in their pyjamas and they were very upset.”
The fire destroyed one room in the first floor flat, where some of the cannabis plants were being stored, and fire, heat and smoke damage to a second room.
There was smoke damage to the rest of the flat and water damage to the front room of the ground floor flat.
John Taylor, of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Growing cannabis is illegal behaviour and it’s clear the people behind these procedures have got scant regard for fire regulations or health and safety.”
Insp Lawler added: “Cannabis factories in residential properties pose a very dangerous fire risk, particularly if electricity supplies have been illegally bypassed.
“Growing cannabis is not only a criminal offence, but as this incident has shown, it can put innocent lives at risk.
Anyone with information about the cannabis factory is asked to contact Blackpool Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.