Crestwood house fire uncovers large marijuana grow operation

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By Amanda Manning

 A house fire in Crestwood earlier this year led investigators to an illegal marijuana grow operation.


On March 28, Ballardsville Fire and Rescue, the South Oldham Fire Department and La Grange Fire and Rescue responded to a home at 5314 Brookswood Road that was fully engulfed in flames. 

Inside, Oldham County Police Department (OCPD) Major Neil Johnson discovered a marijuana grow operation while attempting to save the four dogs inside the home.

Two of the dogs died inside the home and two were rescued. One of the rescued dogs later died, according to a post on the dog owner's public Facebook page. 

Police then executed a search warrant on the home, according to OCPD Detective Todd Lindner.

Inside, investigators discovered multiple marijuana plants, propane tanks, light fixtures, vape cartridges, multiple firearms and a large amount of cash. 

Lindner said the large grow operation covered half of the basement and half of the garage, and many of the plants were destroyed in the fire.

Tara Lyles, 48, was later charged and indicted on the charges of cultivating five or more plants of marijuana and trafficking in between 8 ounces and five pounds of marijuana. It was her first offense on both charges.

Lyles pleaded guilty to the felony charges as part of a plea deal in Oldham County Circuit Court Aug. 1.

She received a four-year pretrial diversion, allowing her to avoid jail time as long as she reports to Probation and Parole, remains alcohol-free and drug-free and does not commit further offenses.

The cause of the fire remains undetermined, according to fire investigator and assistant chief for the South Oldham Fire Department Kevin Parker.

Neighbors reported hearing an explosion before the fire started.

Jim Holnagle said he was coming home when he saw the flames and smoke rising from the house. When he pulled up, he said two women who were walking in the neighborhood at the time told him what they heard prior to the fire.

“She said she heard a big bang...like an explosion of some sort,” Holnagle told the Era in March.

Firefighters said the home was almost a total loss.

Friends, family and businesses donated $3,365 to Lyles on Giving Grid, an online fundraising platform.

Stephanie Blais, 60, who is listed as Lyles’ co-defendant is also facing the charges of cultivating marijuana and trafficking in marijuana.

Blais is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 8 at 1 p.m.