WALPOLE (CBS) — Firefighters in Walpole were initially called to a house fire on Burrill Street Tuesday. But police became involved shortly thereafter because of what was found inside.

In the home’s basement, at least 194 marijuana plants, said Walpole Police.

Dozens of marijuana plants sit outside a Walpole home after police discovered an illegal operation (WBZ-TV)

Patrick Meleo, 47, was arrested and charged with possession to intent to distribute a Class D substance. He appeared before a judge in Wrentham District Court Tuesday afternoon.

Patrick Meleo in court Tuesday (WBZ-TV)

According to court documents, Meleo told police he grew marijuana for medical use but his card had expired. He said he stockpiled the plant for the future and initially denied selling it. When the officer commented on the number of plants, “Meleo stated that because he has reach (sic.) hard times, that he sells it to make ends meet.”

Meleo’s bail was set at $500.

Under Mass. law, Meleo would have been allowed to have six plants in his house.

Police Chief John Carmichael said Meleo’s basement was a recipe for disaster. “All types of bootleg wiring components, we have lamps that are down there, the CO2 that’s mixed in down there. He had extension cords going out windows, going out doors.”

A defense attorney for Meleo said he lives with his 18-year-old daughter and supports another child. “He was the sole support, really for the family,” said the attorney.