Firefighter Saves 7-Ft. Boa Constrictor from Burning House

UPDATED 04/02/2014 at 07:30 AM EDT Originally published 04/01/2014 at 01:45 PM EDT

Michigan Firefighter Rescues Snake from Burning House
Muskegon firefighter Scott Hemmelsbach
Courtesy of Gordon Cole/AP
A firefighter put his reptile-handling experience to good use when he rescued a 7-ft.-long boa constrictor from a burning home in western Michigan.

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 boa constrictor 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," Hemmelsbach said. "He became very active, and I was glad because that meant that he was okay."

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."




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