A cannabis factory that was operating yards from a Bradford mosque was uncovered after growing equipment caught fire.

Police estimate the cannabis found inside the lock-up yesterday to be valued at about £35,000, and are searching for the owners of the building in Al Amin Square, Barkerend.

An investigating officer said if firefighters had not been alerted to the fire so early it could have spread to the mosque and surrounding houses.

A crew from Bradford fire station were called to a lock-up building behind the Al Amin mosque at 7.45am after neighbours reported seeing smoke rising from within.

After breaking into the building – in a business area called Chelmsford Yard – and extinguishing the flames, the crew found that it was being used to cultivate cannabis.

The fire is thought to have been caused by an electricity meter overloading. The theory is that the meter was being bypassed to run lamps to help grow the 90 plants.

The electricity supply was cut off through the morning so police could collect evidence from the building. Officers are also investigating an on-site garage that was found to contain a large number of car parts. The fire caused smoke damage to the building’s interior but no structural damage.

Yesterday, police were at the scene, removing bin bags filled with cannabis leaves and growing equipment from the charred building.

Sergeant Tany Ditta, of the Bowling, Barkerend and Bradford Moor Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The call was made by a resident who had seen the building smoking and when we went inside it was discovered to be a professionally set up cannabis factory.

“Whoever was running it had bypassed the electricity, which isn’t the best of things to do, and that has caused a fire. We are now trying to trace the owners and hopefully speak to them.

“This type of set up is very dangerous, especially in a built-up area. It is dangerous for local residents, as well as being unpleasant for communities. It is lucky the fire brigade arrived quickly.

“The problem with drug dealing like this is often people don’t know it is happening so close to them. We would appreciate any information that could help us and we will act on any local intelligence.”

The 90 plants have an estimated street value of around £35,000. Sgt Ditta said the team would also investigate the garage full of car parts to see if they were stolen.