An electrical fire tipped off St. Petersburg police to a marijuana grow house Monday after the home's resident blocked firefighters from entering a burning bedroom, authorities said. St. Petersburg firefighters were summoned to 727 54th Ave. N. about 6:30 p.m. and found flames in the locked bedroom and the attic. Gaetano Rodriguez, 28, who rents the home from his father, refused to allow firefighters into the bedroom, police spokesman Sgt. Bill Proffitt said in a news release. St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue personnel forcibly removed Rodriguez from the home and, when they broke down the bedroom door, discovered 75 to 100 marijuana plants in pots inside, Proffitt said.
Officers described the room as a "marijuana grow operation." Rodriguez initially told officers that he was growing marijuana for medicinal use but later admitted it was to sell, police said. Rodriguez faces charges of obstructing firefighters, possession and cultivation of marijuana, and possession of MDMA (ecstasy), according to jail records. He was transported to the Pinellas County Jail and later released on $7,300 bail.