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Old 09-01-03, 08:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Unique rescue: Berea codes officer, fire department save snakes from fire

This came off the yahoo group Neo-Slither

Unique rescue: Berea codes officer, fire department save snakes from fire

By Jodi Whitaker
Firefighters responding to a house fire at 103 Pearl St. found some out-of-the-ordinary lives in need of rescue when they arrived at the scene.
Three ball pythons.
“I thought about the movie ‘Pee Wee’s Big Adventure’ when he walks out with all those snakes,” Berea firefighter Steve Thacher said after bringing one of the snakes — Johnny — out of the smoldering basement.
The fire was discovered by Dwayne Litton, a codes enforcement officer for the city of Berea, who was on patrol looking at some trash problems reported to the city.
Litton saw smoke coming out of the house — which happens to be next door to his own house — and radioed to Berea Fire Department for help.
“We just got new radios, and now all departments are able to communicate with each other,” Litton said. “That’s a big deal for us. With old radios, I would have had to call my office, then they would have called the fire department. With our new radio systems, I can call directly to the police and fire department.”
Litton said he then went to the front of the burning house and saw his neighbor, Nathan Cooper, coming out. After asking Cooper if he was all right, Litton told him to turn on his water hose so they could attempt to put out the fire.
Litton was a volunteer firefighter in 1978.
“I have a little experience with that stuff,” Litton said.
Litton said he could see where the fire was coming from, and he was able to get the fire under control before the fire department arrived.
Litton said he didn’t know Cooper’s snakes were in the basement.
“He told me he had snakes, but I didn’t know exactly where they were,” Litton said. “He just said, ‘My snakes are down there.’”
Litton told Cooper they should try to get the fire out first, then try and get the snakes.
“He’s a good kid and a good neighbor,” Litton said of Cooper, who owns the home and has lived there for two years, he said.
Litton said the house was built by a bookkeeper who worked for Berea National Bank in the 1920s, and was one of the first homes built on Pearl Street.
Berea Fire Chief Randy Rigsby said the fire started in the basement of the home, and the majority of damage was caused by smoke. Some electrical wires were damaged as well.
An overloaded electrical outlet was the cause of the fire, Rigsby said.
“Structurally, it didn’t damage anything,” Rigsby said.
Cooper did not seek medical attention.
Rigsby said Cooper told him there were pet snakes in the basement when firefighters arrived.
“I was just careful about what we were doing,” Rigsby said. “If there’s a pet, we’ll do what we can to get it out.”
Firefighter Roy Curtis brought the other two snakes out of the basement. Johnny appeared to have burns around his head, and had some melted plastic leaves stuck to him. His eyes appeared blue, which may have been a sign of a problem, Cooper said.
“They look OK,” Cooper said. “There’s a vet in Lexington who knows something about them.”
Cooper said he had just built a new cage for the snakes, which is about 6 feet tall, 5 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The cage had running water in it.
“They were going to be great in there,” Cooper said. “I don’t know what went wrong.”
Cooper has had Johnny for a year and a half. The other two snakes — Ophian and Quetzalcoatl — were just recently given to him.
Curtis said he wasn’t afraid to bring the snakes out of the basement.
“This is the first time we’ve brought snakes out,” Curtis said. “They were real gentle.”
Being a former police officer and volunteer firefighter, Litton said helping out in a situation like that was something he didn’t think twice about doing.
“Those things just come second nature,” Litton said. “You get out and do what you have to do. You get it done and go. It’s just part of your job. That’s the reason I enjoy my job so well — I enjoy helping people. I don’t do it for the money — I don’t make any money. But you do get satisfaction from getting to help folks. That means a lot.”
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