Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Southampton house fire: dozens of exotic pets saved

Firefighters with dogs Image copyright Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption Watch manager Jason Brattle said it was an unusual situation

More than 100 pets, including iguanas, a chameleon and 11 tortoises, were rescued by firefighters from a house fire in Southampton.

The three-bedroom suburban property housed a menagerie including chickens, turkeys, ducks, parrots, fish, mice and rats.

It also contained dozens of cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets.

Four animals died in the kitchen of the property in Seafield Road and a person was treated for smoke inhalation.

Soot-covered dogs

Fire crews had to negotiate a large tortoise in the middle of the living room as they searched for occupants in the smoke-filled property.

Crews calmed six frightened dogs before leading dozens of animals to safety. Two soot-covered dogs and a ferret were even resuscitated by firefighters using oxygen masks

Tortoises and iguanas were given antibiotics and monitored by a specialist exotic pet vet to treat them for smoke inhalation, and the dogs were also treated by vets.

Jim Green, the animal rescue manager for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, said firefighters were met with a "dramatic" and "panicked" scene when they arrived shortly after 09:00 BST.

'Pet lovers'

Mr Green said: "Walking through the door it was pretty normal, but the living accommodation had animals in cages.

"It wasn't a mess, it was a very tidy set-up. These people are pet lovers and they just collect a variety of different species."

A couple believed to live at the property with their children were said to be shocked.

"You can imagine that these animals are their lives," said Mr Green. "You can understand how people's emotions will be at the time. This family were very calm and understood that there was nothing really that they could do."

Mr Green praised the swift work of the firefighters, which he said saved dozens of lives.

He said: "Their quick action prevented the situation being a lot worse... they undoubtedly saved the lives of more than 100 animals."

The RSPCA attended the scene. The cause of the fire is unknown but the house had no smoke detectors, the fire service said.

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