Reptiles rescued and given oxygen after blaze at Rainham reptile centre

Iguanas, giant tortoises and snakes were among the animals rescued and given oxygen by firefighters after a fire broke out at a reptile centre.

Around 20 firefighters from Hornchurch, Dagenham and Wennington fire station were called to the blaze at the Reptile Reserve in Upminster Road South, Rainham at around 10.05pm on Wednesday March 14.

When crews arrived at the scene they were confronted with thick smoke and a range of animals that you would expect to find in jungles and rainforests.

They managed to rescue eight giant turles, 20 assorted lizards includiung iguanas and monitor lizards and four pythons between six and ten foot long.

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

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No animals escaped, but five lizards perished in the blaze.

Steve King, Blue Watch manager from Wennington Fire Station said: “The property had a complicated layout with branches and leaves hanging down.

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“The jungle efffect and the thick smoke meant our crews had to work hard in extremely difficult conditions to rescue the animals and keep the property safe.

“Firefighters were crawling around in the dark smoke, knowing there were potentially dangerous animals about- it was one of the strangest jobs we have ever attended.”

Terry Fisk was driving past the shop at around 10.10pm when he saw the blaze.

He said: “It was very chaotic and it was bit of a shock.

“I really feel for the animals and I am really surprised that more of them did not die because there was so much smoke.”

The fire was brought under control by 12.24am and the cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

The surviving animals have been relocated to the owner’s other shop in the same road called Cold Blooded Reptile Centre.

Steve said: “We had visited the premises only a few months ago so that in the event of a fire, they would know what to do.

“This was an extremely unusual incident and I’d like to commend the excellent work of the crews involved.”

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