SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Keep the matches away from this tortoise.
Fire officials in Texas say a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a heating lamp in its enclosure, triggering a blaze that nearly burned down a neighbor’s home.
Firefighters were called to the San Antonio home in the early morning hours Tuesday. Investigators determined that the fire started when 15-year-old Bits the tortoise — who lived in an enclosure between the two homes — knocked the lamp over, setting a mattress on fire.
The flames then spread to the neighboring home, severely damaging it. Officials said the home was not a total loss, but it sustained approximately $150,000 in damage.
“Somehow, the heat lamp got knocked over, ignited the mattress, which started the fire which spread to the neighbor’s home,” fire department spokesman Woody Woodward told KSAT-TV. “The fact that it was a pet that ignited the fire is not that unusual. The fact that it’s a giant tortoise makes it extremely unusual.”
Bits was not hurt, but the neighboring family will be forced to relocate until their home is repaired.
The tortoise’s owner said the blaze was an “unfortunate accident” and that he was in touch with his insurance company about covering the damages.