CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Police find ‘cannabis farm’ in West Hampstead after suspected gas leak

Nearby homes lost power

31 December, 2020 — By Bronwen Weatherby

Power team vans in Somali Road

A SUSPECTED cannabis farm has been unearthed in West Hampstead during a dramatic set of events which unfolded after a suspected gas leak.

Engineers were called out to Somali Road on Tuesday morning after residents reported the “horrific smell of gas”, where they found a broken gas pipe.

They carried out safety checks on a number of homes in the street but were unable to gain access to one of the properties. Concerned that someone inside could potentially be in danger, the workers called on the London Fire Brigade.

Police officers also arrived at the scene just after 11am and assisted firefighters in breaking down the door.

Once inside, it became clear that the house was empty except for what has been described as a “large number of suspected cannabis plants”.

A spokesperson for the Met told the New Journal: “Officers are investigating following the discovery of what is believed to be a cannabis farm.”

No arrests have yet been made.

Homes in three streets surrounding the property suffered a power cut for several hours as the emergency services descended on the area.

One resident in nearby Menelik Road said: “There was a huge presence of the National Grid, police and fire engines, and then you had this helicopter winging its way around. Neighbours then told us they’d lost power, with some people saying there had been a minor explosion which had knocked out the electricity and gas.”

“It’s a bit of a surprise considering the house has been empty for about 18 months. The last tenants moved out in the summer of 2019.”

Police have made enquiries at a number of homes and asked those with security cameras if they have any footage.

Residents claim officers were hoping to catch sight of two people they believe may have fled the house prior to officers gaining entry.

One neighbour said: “About six months ago we started to see some windows being opened and french doors occasionally open and then curtains were put up. And now that the leaves have fallen off the trees you can see some of the windows are covered in corrugated iron shutters.”

Another resident said: “None of us in this tight neighbourhood had noticed anyone going in or out of the house.”

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