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Neighbour saves Exmouth home after tortoise mishap

15:00 03 November 2011

Jeffrey the three year old tortoise is pictured with brothers Joe and Max aged six and fifteen months. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 6625-43-11SH To order your copy of this photograph visit and click on myphotos24

Jeffrey the three year old tortoise is pictured with brothers Joe and Max aged six and fifteen months. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref exe 6625-43-11SH To order your copy of this photograph visit and click on myphotos24


An eagle-eyed neighbour saved a home in the Colony from fire after Jeffrey the tortoise knocked his heat lamp onto bedding.

Jeffrey the tortoise had a lucky escape after knocking over his heat lamp and setting fire to his bedding.

The tortoise owes his life - and his owners’ house was saved - thanks to eagle-eyed neighbour Jim Gow.

Jeffrey’s owner, Lisa Greenway, 37, of Egremont Road, praised her neighbour’s quick-thinking, for raising the alarm.

The mum-of-two said of her neighbour: “He was brilliant. I would like to thank him for raising the alarm quickly because we weren’t there.

“It was so lucky Jeffrey did what he did when Jim was there.

“Jeffrey was hot-footing it that day.”

Modest Jim, 51, said: “All neighbours would have done the same thing. I don’t think I did anything special.

“If the role was reversed, Lisa would have done the same for me. Anybody would do it.”

The drama began when the three-year-old tortoise knocked his UVA heat lamp off the side of his wooden and plastic box, which was on the family’s dining room table.

When the light landed on the tortoise’s grass pellet bedding, it began to smoulder, turning the wooden table to charcoal.

Soon the whole house filled with smoke, which was spotted by neighbour Jim after returning from a trip to see his parents in Bedfordshire.

Spotting what he thought was ‘a thin muslin curtain’ stretched across Lisa’s front window, smelling fire and realising his neighbour’s home was smoke filled, Jim called the fire brigade.

Fire crews from Exmouth and Exeter were called to the Colony home. Peering through the letterbox, they were met by smoke.

Fearing Lisa, her husband Mark and two children, Joe and Max, were trapped inside, the crews were about to break the door down when a family member arrived with key.

Watch commander Bob Sturtivant said the outcome could have ended in tragic circumstances had the fire broken out at night.

He said the ground floor of the family home was smoke logged down to the floor. The fire officer said the crews fitted smoke detectors to the property and delivered fire safety leaflets to neighbouring homes.

Mr Sturtivant urged people to ensure their pet equipment was safe.

He said closing internal doors would curb smoke damage to homes affected by fire.


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