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Fri May 13, 2016, 02:14 PM

Dealer Alleges Fire That Destroyed Rare JDM Cars Caused by Illegal Marijuana Growing Operation

Dealer Alleges Fire That Destroyed Rare JDM Cars Caused by Illegal Marijuana Growing Operation


By Chris Perkins
May 12, 2016

Earlier this month we told you about a warehouse fire that destroyed much of the inventory of International Vehicle Importers, a California dealer that specializes in importing rare and sought-after Japanese domestic market cars. At the time, the cause the fire wasn't known, but now the owner of the shop says he knows how the blaze occurred. It's a bizarre and tragic tale.

A post by International Vehicle Importers owner Sean Morris on the company's Facebook page alleges that the fire was caused by an overloaded electrical circuit, caused by an illegal marijuana growing operation that had just started up in the warehouse next door.

Unlike Morris, the Ontario Fire Department isn't ready to say that the illegal marijuana operation was the cause of the fire. "In regards to the structure fire in question there has been no indication that the cause was related to the illegal activity at the location," said Ontario, Calif. Deputy Fire Chief Mike Pelletier, in a statement emailed to Road & Track Thursday.

While an investigation is still ongoing, Brent Correggia, Investigation Supervisor for the Ontario Calif. Fire Department said "we're not finding anything linking [the marijuana operation] to the fire," in a phone interview with Road & Track. Additionally, Correggia said there was no damage at the marijuana operation.

What appears to be a search warrant describing marijuana parephenalia, as posted by International Vehicle Importers
Facebook International Vehicle Importers

In a phone interview with Road & Track, Morris said the alleged illegal marijuana growers posed as tile importers, and began moving into the warehouse next door to International Vehicle Importers on Sunday May 1st. The fire broke out that same day.

"On that Sunday, some of guys there [at International Vehicle Importers] noticed there were some people around next door, but didn't really pay any attention," said Morris. "A half-hour after they left, we had a fire.

"They had just started to move in, turned on their stuff, and it was enough to overload the circuit."

the rarest of the 24 cars destroyed were a 1990 Nissan Skyline GT-R Nismo, a 1994 Eunos (Mazda) Cosmo imported under Show or Display law, and a 2000 Nissan Skyline GT-R race car imported as a documented race car. All of the dealer's JDM vehicles are over 25 years oldľand thus, eligible for import to the U.S.ľor imported under Show or Display and race car exemptions. In addition, three motorhomes, a number of motorcycles, and various personal items were destroyed in the fire. Morris says two of his dogs were killed in the blaze.

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