- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 27, 2019

WALPOLE, Mass. (AP) - A house fire has uncovered a large, illegal marijuana growing operation in a Massachusetts suburb.

Walpole Police say the early morning Tuesday fire was sparked by extensive wiring that 45-year-old Patrick Meleo used to light and ventilate some 194 marijuana plants growing in his basement.

Marijuana is legal in Massachusetts but residents can grow up to 12 plants only.

Police say Meleo’s residence has been the subject of an ongoing drug investigation. They say Meleo had an expired medical marijuana license and told officers he’d been growing and selling additional marijuana to make ends meet.

Meleo has been charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He was arraigned Tuesday and held on $500 bail.

The fire, meanwhile, was contained to the basement and remains under investigation.

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