Escaped turtle blamed for fire that injured five people

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 22, 2011 4:53 PM
Escaped turtle blamed for fire that injured five people

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A turtle who made a slow break from his terrarium sparked a Brooklyn apartment fire that injured four police officers and one firefighter, fire officials said on Tuesday.

Giovani, a 6-year-old African tortoise who looks like a large helmet with legs, was on the loose earlier this week when he knocked over a heat lamp that ignited some art supplies lying near the pet's tank, a spokesman for the New York City Fire Department said. Within minutes, the entire apartment was surrounded in flames.

Giovani survived the fire but another turtle in the apartment died.

Ibrahim Salem lives in the apartment with his family, but no one was at home with the pets at the time when the fire occurred.

Ibrahim's daughter, Doha Salem, told Reuters the roving reptile belongs to her brother Mohamed, a college student studying art. She said her family is not exactly sure how Giovani could have started the fire.

"They (firefighters) told us that the turtle got out of its cage and knocked over the lamp but we're not sure how that happened because he's always been locked in the cage," she said. "He's never gotten out before. Thank God though nobody in our family was hurt."

(Reporting by Aman Ali; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)