Cause of duplex fire linked to tortoise's pen

October 27, 2008 1:06:26 PM PDT
A slow-burning fire in the attic of a Santa Rosa duplex this morning likely started in a wooden enclosure for a pet tortoise, Santa Rosa fire officials said.

Firefighters responded to the attic fire, at a duplex at 1523 Shepard Court, around 7 a.m.

They extinguished the blaze in about 15 minutes, Battalion Chief Andy Pforsich said. The fire caused $80,000 in damage to the structure and $10,000 in damage to the contents.

There was smoke damage to the other half of the duplex, Pforsich said.

Fire investigators believe the attic fire was sparked by an ember from a small fire that burned at the home earlier that day, Pforsich said.

That fire started around 1 a.m. in a small indoor pen that was home to a two-and-a-half-foot tortoise. Pforsich said a heating pad in the pen might have ignited hay in the enclosure.

Resident Judy Truskett extinguished that blaze, fire officials said.

But Pforsich said an ember likely entered the attic through an air-flow screen covering an eave located above the tortoise pen, Pforsich said.

Truskett escaped the second fire, along with two large tortoises, two small turtles and two cats. The Red Cross is helping Truskett find housing, Pforsich said.


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