Dozens of snakes, lizards, rats die in house fire


EL CAJON, Calif. – A fire broke out at a home in El Cajon Friday morning, killing dozens of snakes, lizards, and rats.

It happened just before 6 a.m. in the 1600 block of Pepper Hill Drive. Firefighters reported heavy smoke and fire in the garage when they arrived. According to Heartland Fire & Rescue, crews were able to put out the fire in about 30 minutes.

According to Richard Peterson, the homeowner, one of the family’s dogs started barking after the fire broke out and got his wife’s attention. She let the dog out, saw smoke coming from the garage and woke up her husband.

The couple safely got out with their three dogs, two tortoises and a 10-foot boa.

Peterson said he had about 50 other animals in the garage, including snakes, lizards, and rats that died in the fire.

“My boas – this is their breeding season. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. I just finally got my collection established really good and my name out into the reptile community,” said Peterson. “It’s just unfortunate how they died.”

The Humane Society is now taking care of the surviving animals.

The cause of the fire, which caused an estimated $350,000 in damages, is under investigation.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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