Owner vows to rebuild Rainham Reptile Centre after blaze

The owner of a reptile centre that was destroyed after a blaze causing �10,000 of damage has vowed to rebuild the business.

James Hillbrown has pledged that the Reptile Reserve in Upminster Road South, Rainham will open its doors again after the fire on Wednesday March 14.

James said: “I don’t know how we are going to do it, but it will just happen, we have got good volunteers and we will just get through it.”

Some 20 firefighters were called to the blaze at the centre and battled through the thick smoke to rescue and give oxygen to eight giant turtles, 20 assorted lizards, including iguanas and monitor lizards and four pythons between six and ten feet long.

A burmese python and ten Nile crocdiles had to be left in their enclosures as did 23 foot anaconda, which is believed to be the biggest in Europe.

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James, 38 says that he feared the worse when he saw the smoke coming from the centre.

He said: “I felt gutted but looking on the up side, at the end of the day the fire was contained to a small room and luckily not many of the animals were in that area.

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“It was the firefighters that came up with the idea of giving them oxygen and it worked.”

He added: “The whole thing was just a daze, at the time the firefighters were trying to rescue the animals and we were running in and out to save them.”

Five lizards perished in the blaze and the surviving animals have been relocated to James’ other premises called Cold Blooded Reptiles.

James set up the centre four years ago to house a number of the reptiles that he had rescued.

The centre, provided a space where people could view the reptiles and it was just three weeks away from becoming a registered charity.

James said: “It is a passion for me, I have been doing it since I was a kid and I love those animals.

“The saddest thing for me has been the death of the lizards because I was nursing a lot of them back to health and they had just reached the stage where they were improving.”

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