Fire officials responding to reports of a possible gas leak Monday night in East Baltimore said they found what appeared to be a methamphetamine lab, but later determined that it was a large marijuana growing operation.

Hazmat team members were called to a vacant home in the 3300 block of McElderry St. about 8 p.m. by Baltimore Gas & Electric workers, who received "reports of an odor of natural gas at that location," said Chief Kevin Cartwright, Baltimore Fire Department spokesman.

They forced entry into the dwelling, and once inside, observed what looked like a meth lab, Cartwright said Monday night. Police spokesman Jeremy Silbert said an upstairs room appeared to be barricaded, and the Police Department bomb squad was summoned.

Silbert said once inside, officers discovered several marijuana plants along with growing material.

"This is a very open investigation," Silbert said. "We want to know who was in there, where the stuff came from, and where it was going."

tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article

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