Surrey RCMP are investigating a suspicious fire that consumed a barn being used as a legal grow op in the Port Kells area.

At the height of the fire at 9 a.m. PT Monday, thick, black smoke could be seen spewing into the air as far away as Chilliwack.

The owner of the building, Amarjit Kang, says it was being used as a legal grow op up until two weeks ago. The three men who were running it moved out, he says, after being informed their rent would be increasing from $6,000 to $15,000. 

Kang says they weren't too happy about the rent increase.

"They cleaned up. They took everything. I told them I'm going to do commercial. They didn't want me to do it," said Kang.

Surrey carn burned to ground

It only took about two hours for fire to completely destroye a fairly large barn at 18646 88 Ave, in Surrey. Police are investigating whether arson was the cause. (CBC)

Drago Kodelja lives across the street and called 9-1-1 when he saw the smoke, but couldn't believe how quickly it spread.

"By the time I got off the phone, I looked. Holy mackerel! That flame was shooting all over the place and the building went really fast," he said.

Kodelja says he isn't sad to see it go and claims over the years he has seen some strange things going on at the property.

"There's been some funny people here, two in the morning, three in the morning," he told CBC News. 

Arson alleged

In just two hours the fire completely destroyed a barn that spanned more than 30 metres.

Kang believes it was set deliberately.  The police will only say it is "suspicious".

"That's directly where we're heading to, but at this point how it began has not been determined," said Corporal Bill Ing of Surrey RCMP. "We're still at the early stage."

With all the finger pointing going on right now, Surrey RCMP caution it would be premature to draw any conclusions until their investigation is complete.    

with files from Deborah Goble