Several snakes burned to death in Chesapeake storage facility fire

Posted at 8:18 AM, Dec 24, 2012

Chesapeake, Va. - Several snakes burned to death in a huge storage facility fire over the weekend.

It happened Saturday. Investigators now say they have found the cause of the fire.

The fire at Brentwood Self Storage burned for hours on Saturday.

"They had aquariums in here, with some snakes, they had rigged some electricity that they weren't supposed to do, to put some heat lamps in here," says Catherine Swetname, facility co-owner.

NewsChannel 3 captured video of the destructive flames, to prove how fast the fire spread.

On Sunday, daylight offered a grim picture of what's left - and there's not much. Investigators say they think a rigged heating system meant to keep six snakes warm, started the fire.

Two direct violations of the rental agreement, says co-owner Catherine Swetnam.

Swetnam thinks the person renting the unit replaced the light bulb with an outlet to plug in an extension cord, that delivered power to six heat lamps.

The problem is, she says that socket wasn't designed for anything more than a 100 watt light bulb.

Whether that caused the fire, or if it was a faulty extension cord, that hasn't been determined just yet.

What has been determined? There's a lot of damage - and no charges have been filed.

"The amount of damage left behind, the amount of stuff that was in these people's units, is so sad to look at now that it's been burned by this fire. Some very personal possessions like this turquoise blue love me teddy have furniture...everything that was in these storage units is now burnt to a crisp, incinerated by this massive fire."

Catherine Swetnam is thankful for the hard work of firefighters.

"They were absolutely amazing. This was an immense not let this spread."