Investigators suspect pot-growing lights to blame for blaze

The resident of an Aloha house that caught fire because of what investigators believe to be a marijuana-grow operation, turned himself in to authorities Friday at the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators have sought Mark Brightman, 59, since an Aug. 22 house fire broke out that morning in the house Brightman rents in the 3300 block of Southwest 173rd Avenue.

Brightman, who was accompanied by his attorney when he arrived at the office Friday at 9:50 a.m., was jailed on accusations of unlawful manufacture and unlawful possession of marijuana. His bail was set at $50,000.

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue personnel responded to a 9-1-1 call around 4:46 a.m. Monday, Aug. 22, reporting the blaze. They were fighting an active house fire when a marijuana growing operation with more than 50 plants was discovered, said Sgt. David Thompson of the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Arson investigators haven't determined the exact cause of the fire, but said it started in one of the grow rooms and is likely related to high-powered grow lights for the plants.

Deputies were not able to locate Brightman, who resided in the house as a tenant, or the property owners. Deputies believe Brightman placed the emergency call and left before firefighters arrived, Thompson said.

Members of the Westside Interagency Narcotics Team were called in to take over the investigation. They obtained a search warrant and found evidence that more than 50 marijuana plants were growing at the time of the fire.

Investigators determined the grow operation is not registered with the state and not a medical-marijuana grow, Thompson said.

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