‘Snakes all over’: Exotic animals startle Pennsylvania firefighters

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TAMAQUA, Pa.  – Firefighters weren't prepared for what they saw inside a Pennsylvania home that caught fire Sunday night.

The house was packed with exotic pets, according to Schuylkill County fire officials, and neighbors say the owners and their pets have that neighborhood feeling uneasy.

Shortly before 7 p.m. Sunday, crews responded to a fire in the basement that started when a heat lamp in an animal cage caused wood shavings to catch on fire. People who live in this neighborhood weren't just greeted by fire engines; several animal cages lined the streets.

"I was told there were levels and levels of snakes all over that house -- upstairs, downstairs, attic. It's like a food chain," said neighbor Maggie Knadler.

Pictures from neighbors show the house was full of animals. Several snakes were rescued, including a boa constrictor. Tarantulas, rats, cats, an iguana, a lizard, a turtle and birds filled the home.

Knadler added that the homeowners and their exotic pets have caused lots of problems in the neighborhood with this fire serving as the latest issue.

"I think the borough needs to step up and do something about it in a residential area. If they want this stuff, let them have a single home, not in a row home where other people live."

WNEP spoke with a former humane officer who was at the scene who said he's never seen anything like it.

The borough manager said there are ordinances in place for dogs and cats, but not exotic animals.

No one was hurt, and all of the animals were saved and returned to their owners.

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