The minor conflagration started after the tortoise knocked a heat lamp onto its bedding, which then caught fire. Its owners weren’t home, so the neighbors alerted the authorities.
A volunteer fire crew arrived at the house to find it filled with smoke and a fire burning in one of the rooms. They rescued the tortoise and ensured the house was clear.
“It’s his lucky day,” the Essex fire department posted on Facebook, along with a photo of the would-be arsonist serving rescuers a hefty serving of side-eye and not at all looking as if rescuers had just foiled its plot to burn its owner’s house down.
The 45-year-old reptile “will now hopefully continue to live a long and happy life, thanks to working smoke alarms," said Gary Wain, watch manager at the Great Dunmow Fire Station. “This incident shows just how important it is to have smoke alarms on every level of your home."
Especially if you have a tortoise.