Reptile escape fear in blaze drama

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The Independent Online

A fire at a reptile emporium housing poisonous snakes and scorpions led concerned neighbours to seek shelter at a football stadium last night.

Firefighters were called out to Reptile Land pet shop in Hull just after 12.30am, where they discovered a blaze on the first floor of the store, on the city's Anlaby Road.

When crews realised the shop contained dangerous snakes and poisonous scorpions, between eight and 10 neighbours were removed to the KC Stadium, home of Hull City Football Club, for a short time.

Glenn Ramsden, of Humberside Fire and Rescue, said: "Following information from the key holder of the premises it was found that some of the many reptiles in the building could be dangerous.

"At this point the officer in charge took the decision to evacuate neighbouring homes should the animals escape their cages during the incident. Residents were taken to the KC Stadium by Humberside Police."

Around 30 firefighters arrived at the scene to tackle the fire and rescue the shop's reptilian inhabitants, but although they saved a number of animals, including a 10ft-long boa constrictor, other animals perished in the flames.

In total it is thought 10 snakes, two tortoises, four iguanas and an unknown number of scorpions died.

Mr Ramsden praised the bravery of the fire crews for their attempts to save the frightened creatures.

He said: "Watch manager Ian Marritt had a huge number of matters to prioritise in a very short space of time, under very difficult circumstances.

"The crews did an outstanding job preventing what could have been serious fire spread, saving a number of animals in the process."

He added that the owner of the store, which also houses and rehomes rescued reptiles, was confident that all the creatures had been accounted for.

The fire, which is believed to have been caused by an electrical problem, was put out by around 5.30am this morning.