Firefighters battled a three-alarm fire Saturday morning on Oakland's Auto Row and then discovered a marijuana grow operation in the building, authorities said.

About 4:05 a.m., nearly 60 firefighters encountered flames shooting as high as 20 feet in the air at 3050 Broadway near 30th Street, Oakland fire Battalion Chief Emon Usher said. Firefighters discovered what appeared to be a marijuana grow operation, including 100 to 200 pot plants, lamps, a filtering system and altered electrical work, Usher said.

Nobody was reported injured in the blaze, but Saturday's fire was adjacent to a lot where another building burned to the ground in 1999, killing a firefighter. In that fire, 52-year-old Oakland firefighter Tracey Toomey of San Leandro died when the second floor of a Victorian-style building collapsed on him.

"I was aware of the location. Hard to forget it." Usher said. "I certainly did not want to get anyone injured, especially with the feel of that location where we had the previous tragedy."

The blaze caused an estimated $500,000 in damage to the building and the cause is under investigation, fire officials said. The building was declared a crime scene, Usher said, and police plan to serve a search warrant on the property.

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