Kitchen fire leads to discovery of 28 snakes in Clearfield home

Published: Friday, July 26 2013 7:51 p.m. MDT

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CLEARFIELD — Firefighters responding to a small kitchen fire Friday were startled to discover the home was full of snakes.

There were 28 snakes total residing at 970 E. 1150 South, six of which were venomous.

"We didn't expect this at all," said Mark Becraft, chief of the North Davis Fire District. "It was difficult … the snakes were in cages and secure, but we're not trained, we don't know exactly what kind of snakes (they were)."

Fire damage was contained to the kitchen, Becraft said. The fire was reported just after 11 a.m. Friday.

The homeowner didn't have a permit to keep the venomous snakes — five rattlesnakes and one rare and dangerous gaboon viper, said Davis County Animal Control Director Clint Thacker.

The remaining 22 snakes (which include a 10-foot python and a 15-foot python) could easily have been found in a pet store, Thacker said. The homeowner said he found some in the wild and purchased the rest.

"He did know what he was doing, as far as taking care of snakes," Thacker said. "He's very, very educated on the matter, everything looked very professional."

He also knew he wasn't authorized to have the venomous snakes, Thacker said, and knew what was going to happen when animal control showed up. The venomous snakes were seized by The Division of Wildlife Resources, and he won't get them back.

He still has custody of the remaining 22 snakes, and animal control has filed a report detailing what reptiles he has in the house.

The man's love of snakes "overtook his common sense," Thacker said.

DWR is considering possible charges for possession of venomous snakes, and animal control is looking into penalties for having too many animals in the house, possession of wild animals or possession of dangerous animals, Thacker said.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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