Multiple exotic pets killed in West Side house fire

Charleston police say multiple exotic animals were killed in a house fire on the city's West Side. (WCHS/WVAH)

The Charleston Fire Department says multiple exotic animals were killed in a house fire on the city's West Side. The homeowner, Michael Butcher said 15 of his 19 pets were killed mainly by smoke inhalation.

Fire crews responded to the fire at a home in the 300 block of Dayton Driver at about 2:15 p.m. Saturday. When crews arrived, they said the first floor was engulfed. As firefighters worked to put out the fire they found numerous cats and multiple exotic animals including a parrot, two large lizards, a white python, a tarantula and several other snakes.

Police said several animals were killed in the fire, but crews were able to rescue some.

Butcher and his fiancee was not home at the time of the fire. They were actually at a reptile show in Ohio. They said they were notified by a friend that there was a fire.

"It's pretty hard, Our animals are like our kids, the parrot I've had for nine years," said Butcher. "We only had three of them pulled out of the 19 so lost a good bit of them."

Butcher's cats, and beloved parrot Mac-a-bird were just a few of the animals that died in the fire.

"The house can be rebuilt but the animals can never be replaced," said Butcher.

The Charleston Fire Department said they think the fire started in the room where the lizards and snakes were kept. The fire department and a family member were able to rescue two of the snakes, a lizard and tarantula.

Many neighbors stood and watched as first responders brought out the exotic animals.

"I can't imagine coming home to see my house ruined and my animals dead too," said nextdoor neighbor, Mica Green.

Green and her daughter Chole Swiney, smelled the smoke, then saw it and called in the fire and have meet a few of the snakes. She says the parrot was quite popular in the neighborhood.

"The bird usually hangs out on the front porch and people walk by and come to visit me and she scaws reall loud and usually scare everyone to death and their like what is that? I'm like thats the bird. She is a better watch dog than what the dog is," said Green.

Green says Butcher has been very nice to her young daughter and has shown her the snakes.

"I feel bad for the parrot and kitty cats, because I really do love kitty cats," said Chole Swiney.

Other neighbors were sad to hear that Mac-a-bird died. During our interview with butcher, someone even drove up to offer condolances. Butcher says people would talk with his parrot all the time.

"She communicated with all the neighborhood, there is going to be a lot of people in the neighborhood upset that she is gone," said Butcher.

Butcher says he had a list of how many animals they had on their front door for the fire department and understands why they would be appresenaive to touch the exotic ones. He is thankful a few reptiles were saved as this is hitting his fiancee and himself very hard.

"The animals are like her kids, and one of the cats she had for 16 years," said Butcher.

The fire department thinks the preliminary cause of the fire is eletrical.

Charleston Fire Captain Les Smith says this incident is a good reminder for people to list the number of pets they have on their window or door so they can rescue them if you are not home during a fire. Also to make your neighbors aware of a way to contact you in case you are not home during an emergency but your pet is.

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