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Puppies killed, snake survives in weekend residential fires

Firefighters in McDuffie County and the City of Thomson were kept busy, as they battled two residential fires last Saturday afternoon. In one of those fires, two pit bull puppies died.

In the city fire, firefighters reported finding a python snake, about 7 to 8 feet long, which survived.

The first blaze was reported at the residence of Gary Avery located at 487 Liberty Street, off Moose Club Road, according to McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services Assistant Chief Stephen Sewell.

After firefighters received the 4:09 p.m. alarm and arrived on the scene, they discovered a neighbor, Choise Bolton, a maintenance technician at Thomson Plastics, attempting to extinguish the fire with water from his garden hose.

"I had to do something to help," Mr. Bolton told The McDuffie Mirror at the scene.

Firefighters eventually made their way into the single-story dwelling, which Mr. Avery had been remodeling and had just moved into about three weeks ago. They later discovered a cage containing two pit bulls, believed to be between 11/2 and 2 months old. Assistant Chief Sewell said firefighters examined the dogs for signs of life when they were brought out, but they detected none.

"We hated that happened," he lamented. "We would have given them oxygen and gotten them to a local veterinarian had they still been alive."

The puppies are believed to have died from smoke inhalation and heat, the official pointed out.

Mr. Avery, who was not home at the time, was away in Augusta shopping for remodeling supplies for his home.

Assistant Chief Sewell said the cause of the fire was a space heater, located in a front bedroom of the home.

In a separate house fire last Saturday, a rear bedroom of a dwelling at 624 Martin Luther King Jr. Street sustained "heavy" fire damage shortly before 5:30 p.m., according to Thomson Fire Department Chief Rick Sewell.

An electrical cord in the bedroom is believed to have been the cause of that blaze, which eventually got into the attic section of the home owned by Shirley Shank, Chief Sewell said. Kenneth Kendrick was identified as the occupant there. At the time of the fire, Mr. Kendrick was not home.

After firefighters managed to extinguish the fire, they began salvage and clean-up operations, Chief Sewell explained. It was during that time they learned that a pet python snake had been living in an aquarium of the bedroom.

Firefighters first believed the snake may have been killed in the fire, but when Assistant Chief David Hawkins along with firefighters Brian Ashley, Edward Richardson and Adam Clark began moving the box springs off the bed, they discovered the big snake alive and well, Chief Sewell said.

"All of us were real happy that the snake was alive and hadn't been injured," Chief Sewell said. "And so was the snake's owner."

Web posted on Thursday, February 25, 2010

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