A Maryland fire burned down a home on Nov. 23 because the homeowner was trying to remove a snake infestation. According to reports, the fire broke out around 10 p.m. that night, and officials have now determined that it was an accidental blaze.
Pete Piringer, public information officer for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, posted about the incident on Twitter. He said that the fire was caused when the hot coals, which were being used to try and remove the snakes, got too close to some combustible material.
According to reports, the snakes had been a problem for the current and previous owner of the home.
Piringer said that the fire started in the basement and quickly spread up the inside of the home’s walls. Over 75 firefighters were called to the home on Big Woods Road in Dickerson, Maryland. The 10,000 square foot home took hours for the firefighters to contain, and reports said that the fire wasn’t completely extinguished until the next morning.
Firefighters had to haul in water tanks to provide water for the fire. There were no fire hydrants in the area.
No humans were injured in the fire, but Pete Piringer did report that some snakes were killed in the blaze. According to the fire and rescue service, firefighters found snake skins when they were combing through the wreckage. One living snake was found crawling out of the foundation and it was later relocated to a different environment.
It is unclear if the homeowner successfully removed all the snakes.
Because the fire was determined to be an accidental blaze, the Montgomery Fire and Rescue Service turned the investigation over to the insurance company. So far, the fire caused over $1 million worth of damage.
After the fire, Pete Piringer spoke to reporters and recommended that anyone dealing with snake infestations should call professional help instead of dealing with the problem themselves.
He said, “There are animal services that can come out and make recommendations, or pest control, or an exterminator. We recommend you have professionals deal with any pest control issue to help maintain the situation.”
According to reports, snake infestations are not uncommon in Maryland. Back in 2015, an Annapolis couple sued their real estate agent and claimed that she knew their home was infested with snakes before she sold it to them. One of the snakes found on the property was seven feet long.
In a $2 million lawsuit, Jeff and Jody Brooks claimed they were run out of their home after they discovered it was crawling with snakes. A snake inspector also found snake nests, feces and many black rat snakes within the home. He said the house was unfit for children.
Reports said that the Brooks snake lawsuit was settled in court in Nov. 2017 for an undisclosed sum of money. Champion Realty, who bought the home after the Brooks moved out, renovated the property in 2017 and put it on the market. According to the report, they fixed the snake problem and claimed that the Brooks family fabricated the seriousness of the infestation.
A statement said, “Their claim was exaggerated and sensationalized by the media. Allegations of a systemic problem with snakes were made, but never proven.”
According to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the state only has two species of snake that are venomous and dangerous to people. Those snakes include the timber rattlesnake and the eastern copperhead. In total, Maryland has 27 different species of snake.