Reverend’s ‘shock’ after huge Macclesfield fire next to church uncovered cannabis factory

A Macclesfield reverend has spoken about a huge fire next to a church that uncovered a cannabis factory.

At 4am on August 17, emergency services were called to reports of a fire at an industrial building on Calamine Street in Macclesfield.

Upon arrival, police and firefighters found a former kitchen warehouse engulfed in flames.

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Firefighters eventually put out the fire, but a subsequent investigation discovered that the building was being used to house a professional cannabis farm.

Firefighters concluded that the fire was caused by an electrical fault involving the equipment being used as part of a cannabis farm.

Harry Pritchard, Pastor of Bethel Baptist Church since 2016, said people had been ‘shocked’ by the incident, adding that local residents thought it was ‘strange’ how people entered the warehouse.

He said: “I think shock is the most common reaction, both to the fire and even more so to the discovery of a cannabis farm.

“Some of the local folk had mentioned it was strange that they only opened the roller shutter a few feet and rolled in under it.

“As for myself I never saw anyone there and put it down to lockdown and them not working due to the pandemic.”

An investigation was launched by Cheshire police following the fire, with officers still appealing for information which may aid their investigation.

Detective Sergeant Robert McCubbin, of Macclesfield Local Policing Unit, said: “This investigation is in its early stages and we are committed to doing all we can to establish who was running this factory.

“Due to the structural stability of the site we have been unable to access some parts of the building and we expect that officers will remain in attendance at the scene for several days.

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“The warehouse itself is located at the junction of Calamine Street and Windmill Street and as part of our enquiries we are keen to hear from anyone in the area who believes they may have witnessed anything suspicious in recent weeks and months.

“The same goes for anyone with any CCTV or dashcam footage which may aid our investigation.”

Anyone with any information in relation to the incident is asked to call Cheshire police on 101, quoting IML 1063059 or give the details via www.cheshire.police.uk/ro/report

Alternatively, information can be reported anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.

Cheshire Live – Cheshire