The Washington Post

U of M mascot catches fire, survives unhurt

Usually rubbing the bronze statue of the University of Maryland’s mascot, a diamondback terrapin, is considered good luck, especially at final exams. Or some bring the Testudo, as it is known, gifts — books, candles, cigarettes, food, charm braclets, alcohol.

But the statue, which sits in front of McKeldin Library, was found on fire early Wednesday morning. A student police aide reported the fire of the statue. The fire was put out by the student police aide and a library staff member before police arrived.

Police at the campus said they found that offerings left to Testudo — notes and books — were set on fire on top of the statue.

The university president — Wallace D. Loh — posted on Twitter Wednesday that he was “happy to report that there was no damage to Testudo. ...Testudo is ready to continue supporting our #UMD community!”

The cause of the blaze was under investigation and campus police said “malicious intent has not been ruled out,” according to a press release from their department.

But late Wednesday night, the campus police determined that the fire was accidental, caused by a lampshade that was placed over a lit candle. Testudo made it through, and no injuries were reported.

News that Testudo had been set on fire created a buzz on social media, with many condemning the incident.

This story has been updated.

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Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.



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