Auction house blaze reveals cannabis farm

The fire at the old Dewsbury Auctions building in Huddersfield Road, Ravensthorpe. Picture by Ash Milnes.
The fire at the old Dewsbury Auctions building in Huddersfield Road, Ravensthorpe. Picture by Ash Milnes.
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Police found cannabis plants and equipment in the wreckage of a historic building that was devastated by fire when flames tore through the roof.

Police found cannabis plants and equipment in the wreckage of a historic building that was devastated by fire when flames tore through the roof.

The plants were found by fire investigators at the former Dewsbury Auctions building in Huddersfield Road, Ravensthorpe, after a blaze on Sunday.

Abdur Rehman, his wife and three children, who live just doors away from the auction house, were advised to leave their house until the fire was put out.

Mr Rehman said: “Obviously it was a scary feeling – it was sudden and we thought next door was on fire.

“We’re really going to make sure our smoke alarms are working.

“It was very confusing and there was a lot of smoke, we left because we were worried about the children.”

He said that only last year an industrial building that backed onto his kitchen went up in flames.

“It’s scary how many fires there are in this area,” he said.

Abdul Moshin, who runs M&A Mobile & Repairs in Huddersfield Road, said he saw flames coming through the roof of the building and crowds gathering to watch while he worked his shop across the road.

An elderly resident, who did not want to be named, said: “There’s always something happening in Ravensthorpe!”

The building’s owner Mohammed Bashir said he received a call about the blaze and had not been given any information about the cause.

Mr Bashir bought the property around two years ago when the former auction business closed down.

He hoped to sell the building on but did not know what his next move would be following the fire.

Two fire engines from Dewsbury, another from Mirfield and an aerial platform from Huddersfield were used to fight the blaze at around 5.45pm on Sunday.

Homes further along the road that were not evacuated were told to close their windows.

It took teams around an hour to get to fire under control and until around midnight before it was properly extinguished.

The cause of the blaze was unclear and investigators will determine how much of the building will need to be demolished.

Watch commander Richard Carr, of Dewsbury Fire Station’s blue watch, said: “It was a severe fire. All the building was involved. There was lots of thick black smoke and flames were coming through the roof.

“There was no access to the back of the building and the alleyway to the side is very narrow which meant we could only tackle it from the front until the CARP (Combined Aerial Rescue Platform) arrived.

“Debris was falling from the roof structure so it got quite difficult to tackle. The best option was to tackle it from the outside.

“There was an exposure risk to the residential properties so we either had to tell people to close their windows or evacuate them completely.”

Parts of the Ravensthorpe Gyratory remained closed the following day, with diversions in place along Calder Road and Netherfield Road.

The building has been closed and empty for around two years.

Police said enquiries into the cannabis plants were at an early stage and anyone with information was asked to contact Dewsbury and Mirfield Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.