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Posted by W von Papinešu on January 24, 2003 at 13:37:15:
NORTHERN ECHO (Darlington, UK) 24 January 03 Tarantulas shock for firefighters (Chris Brayshay)
Confronted with a blazing building and reports that a rescue operation was needed, the firefighters did not think twice.
Even when they discovered that those trapped inside were animals rather than people, they still braved the flames.
The firefighters fought their way through the dense smoke to rescue them from the blazing building at Middlesbrough College yesterday.
It was only when they burst back into the open air with boxes containing the creatures that the firefighters went white.
Rather than grateful puppies or terrified kittens, the firefighters had rescued two tarantulas, two geckos, a corn snake, a box of cockroaches and two green toads.
"We were just told there were animals in there," said Jim Ruse, station officer at Coulby Newham fire station.
"We did not realise what they were until we got them outside. There were some surprised faces."
Sadly, the story did not have an entirely happy ending because the rescuers were unable to save the life of an iguana which succumbed to the smoke.
A heater for the iguana's aquarium has been blamed for the blaze.