A boneheaded Maryland homeowner who tried to rid the $1.8 million house of a snake infestation by smoking out the reptiles set his million property ablaze, leaving a charred shell.
The unidentified homeowner used coals as a heat source in an effort to smoke the snakes out but placed them too close to combustibles, sparking the massive fire on November 23, according to county fire investigators.
The blaze began around 10 pm in the basement of the 6228 square foot multi-story manor, located on the 21000 block of Big Woods Road in Dickerson, before spreading throughout the rest of the house, WJLA reported.
Only one snake’s skin could be found among the ashes, while another snake was later found alive.
‘He came out of the foundation,’ Montgomery County Fire spokesperson Pete Piringer said.
Firefighters eventually apprehended the snake before releasing it into nearby woods.
The remaining snakes had either hidden by the debris or slithered away.
By the time some 75 firefighters arrived, the roof and part of its structure had collapsed as flames lit up the night sky.
Firefighters were also hampered by the lack of fire hydrants on the property, which has a nearly mile-long driveway and is located about 60 miles east of Baltimore.
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Flames shoot out of a $1.8 million home in Dickerson, Maryland after homeowner tried to rid the house of a snake infestation by smoking out the serpents
The blaze began in the basement of the massive home, located on the 21000 block of Big Woods Road, before spreading throughout the rest of the house
Pictured: The manor in Dickerson, Maryland before it was destroyed in an accidental fire when the homeowner used coal to try to smoke out a snake infestation
Piringer told Fox 5 that the homeowner was unaware the house was ablaze after he set up the burning coals in the basement, the source of the home’s the snake infestation.
‘Whatever process was being used, and there was number of them, they believe a number of platforms – metal buckets, containers of various kinds used throughout, creating the smoke,’ he said.
‘And they believe some of that, again, combustibles, in this case, may have been a wall or some other combustible material, too close to the heat source.’
Officials did not say what kind of snakes had slithered into the home but a wildlife expert said it was not uncommon for reptiles to seek refuge in cold weather.
‘During the wintertime, like any other animal, you know they’re naturally going to want to find a space where they can stay warm and they’re not going to freeze,’ conservation specialist Beth Schlimm said.
‘So typically that might mean finding a crevice in a fallen tree or in a pile of rocks. But occasionally they find a crack in someone’s foundation to their house.’
Pictured: the home after the fire tore through it on November 23
By the time authorities arrived, the roof and structure had collapsed
A view of the front of the Dickerson manor, showing the entire structure burned to the ground behind the remaining front facade
Schlimm said that the most effective way to prevent infestations of any kind is by sealing any cracks in the home’s foundation, while Maryland DNR officials and pest control experts added that they don’t recommend using this smoke method to get rid of snakes.
No one was injured in the fire, which was deemed accidental.
Public records show the home was purchased by the current owners for $1.8 million, while the damage caused by the fire is estimated to be over $1 million, according to WJLA.
The status of the snake infestation remains ‘undetermined,’ Piringer said.