A man and his pet python survived a fire which ripped through a ground-floor flat in Feltham on Monday (July 20) evening.
The man, who escaped the burning flames in his flat in Fern Grove before London Fire Brigade (LFB) arrived, was taken to hospital by paramedics from London Ambulance Service suffering from slight burns and smoke inhalation.
Four fire engines and 21 firefighters from Feltham and Heston stations tackled the blaze for just under an hour before it was under control, and rescued a large snake which has been handed over to the RSPCA.
Watch manager Stuart Whitmore, who was at the fire, said: "When firefighters arrived they found that half of the ground-floor flat was on fire and the occupant had escaped.
"As the stairwell was full of smoke, firefighters advised other residents to stay in their flats as it was much safer than going out into the corridor.
"Fire crews wearing breathing apparatus put the fire out and, when the smoke had cleared, led four people to safety using an internal staircase.
"Firefighters also learnt on arrival that the man kept a number of reptiles in his flat. Crews searched the premises and rescued a large snake from the fire.
"The python was carried to safety in a shopping basket and later handed over to the care of the RSPCA."
LFB was called to the flat fire at 9.18pm and the fire was out by 10.08pm, a spokesman said. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The brigade recently launched a campaign called Know the Plan, designed to improve awareness of fire safety for the residents of high-rise buildings and purpose-built blocks, and to encourage landlords and housing providers to act on their fire safety responsibilities. Visit http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/know-the-plan.asp.