EMBDEN — A marijuana-growing operation in Embden that was destroyed by fire this week was operating illegally, according to officials.

The state Drug Enforcement Agency is investigating the fire that occurred Tuesday at 215 Wentworth Road, Shannon Moss, spokesperson for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Thursday.

The fire was at least the third this year in central Maine involving a marijuana-growing operation. The other two were in Vassalboro, and one of them also was an illegal operation.

A fire in February occurred a few weeks after town officials had ordered that it close. The property had not undergone a site review and its owner had not submitted an application for a license, officials said at the time. The fire was attributed to electrical problems at the building.

Moss said earlier this week the Embden fire also was potentially an electrical problem, but there was too much damage to know with certainty.

The state has issued 85 marijuana cultivation licenses as part of Maine’s recreational marijuana program, according to the state Office of Cannabis Policy. The office declined to reveal the number of growing facilities for the state’s medical-use marijuana program.

A spokeswoman said the office does not have information on how many illegal cultivation operations might be operating in Maine.

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