MUSKEGON, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – A firefighter put his reptile-handling experience to good use when he rescued a 6-foot-long python from a burning home in western Michigan.
“The homeowners had the snake on the first floor,” Muskegon Batallion Fire Chief Gordon Cole told WWJ’s Kathryn Larson. “They tried to go back in and get the snake, but a passerby kept them from going back in.”
Cole said that that when his crew arrived, through the flames the were avle to see the pet was sqirming about.
“A lot of the guys were like, ‘Yeah, no. I’m not picking it up … but Scott was able to do it,” Cole said.
Muskegon firefighter Scott Hemmelsbach told The Muskegon Chronicle that he reluctantly agreed to enter the two-story, smoke-filled house Sunday night to retrieve the snake. He says he cradled the “weighty” snake before carrying it to safety.
“It was trying to crawl up the side of his terrarium and get out,” Hemmelsbach said. “His face was pushed up on the screen and trying to get out. There was a lot of smoke and he was trapped.”
The firefighter said he learned how to handle snakes while he was at Grand Haven High School, where he helped showcase them.
“I’d take them around and show them to the kids in the elementary classes,” he said. “That didn’t bother me at all.”
When Hemmelsbach reached the python inside the home, he gingerly handled him so not to scare the reptile.
“I removed the screen off the top and knew to approach it by coming up behind his head. He became very active, and I was glad because that meant that he was OK.”
Two people in the home escaped without injury, fire officials said. The fire significantly damaged the home, and the cause is under investigation.
“I would do it for any creature,” Hemmelsbach said. “I’m just glad it had a happy ending.”
Cole said the snake is doing fine.
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