PALM HARBOR — A small fire turned out to be a big problem for a man accused of setting up a marijuana growing operation in his home.
Authorities were called just before 8:40 p.m. Friday to 3749 Appleton Court after getting reports of smoke.
Homeowner Kerry S. Nichols, 60, apparently fell asleep while food cooked on the stove, the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said. Palm Harbor firefighters responded and quickly extinguished the fire.
But firefighters suspected there might be a meth lab in the house, and summoned a hazmat team.
Authorities didn't find any meth. But they did find four marijuana plants and other equipment in a back room.
Nichols was charged with cultivating and possessing marijuana and booked into the Pinellas County Jail, where he remained Saturday in lieu of $5,150 bail.