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Snakes and exotic species saved from blaze

PUBLISHED: 15:12 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:42 25 August 2010

SNAKES and scorpions had to be rescued from a fire in which dozens of exotic animals perished.

SNAKES and scorpions had to be rescued from a fire in which dozens of exotic animals perished.

Bexleyheath and Eltham fire fighters performed a one-off rescue operation when they were called to a burning vivarium in Parkmead Road, Sidcup, at 7.50am on November 11.

Three pythons, 15 scorpions and two boa constrictors were saved by the eight hour rescue, but around 100 animals including a White Tree Frog, geckos, chameleons and tarantulas were killed.

Bexleyheath station commander John Willoughby said: "Think of the worst thing you could imagine living at London Zoo - we had a whole room full of angry ones.

"We were told that nothing in there was venomous but the operation was very unusual.

"It was harrowing for the crews - they worked extremely hard without stopping until 4pm. It was incredible really. I was directing from the patio."

The rescue was complicated when a 12ft albino Burmese python fell through the floorboards into a hole under the shed, whilst another snake slid behind it.

When the hole started flooding with water from a large pond, fire fighters had to set up a pump to save the python from drowning as RSPCA inspectors tried to fish it out.

RSPCA Inspector Becky Timberlake said: "It was a horrendous sight, one of the worst things I've ever seen."

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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