A San Diego area firefighter gently wiped the face of a boa constrictor he had just pulled from a burning apartment Friday afternoon.
Chula Vista Fire crews were called to the 1600 block of Calle Atria at 4:15 p.m. for an electrical fire inside a second-story apartment unit.
When firefighter Robert Parkhill walked into the unit, he saw smoke filling a terrarium.
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He said he was concerned for the animal inside, but did not know what it could be -- a snake or spider or something poisonous.
He soon discovered it was a five-foot long boa constrictor. Parkhill grabbed the snake as colleagues extinguished the fire.
Once outside, Parkhill cleaned extinguisher chemicals from the snake's mouth. No one was inside the apartment at the time, so firefighters were still trying to reach the residents as of 5:30 p.m. The unit sustained minor carpet damage, fire officials say.
The boa is recovering with a welcoming, snake-friendly neighbor.