MEDINA, Ohio — Medina firefighters responded to a unique call Wednesday: a shed on fire with dozens of turtles and tortoises inside. Thanks to a special tool, they were able to save some of the precious creatures.
Ron Blue has been raising turtles and tortoises for 30 years. When he got a call that the shed where he houses them was on fire, his heart sank.
“I was trying to wrap my brain around what was going on,” Blue said. “The fire department was great. I mean, the chief was out of here. He was helping me kind of process stuff.
Unfortunately, most of the animals didn't make it, but they were able to save several turtles, and one tortoise named Terry.
Firefighter Steve Ingersol used an oxygen mask built specifically for animals.
“First time in my 40 years of public safety — I've ever been involved with rescuing turtles,” Ingersol said, adding that they carry those oxygen masks on all of their trucks, and they've come in handy.
“It's a great tool to have, and with everybody having pets now, it seems like most people do. We've used it on several occasions to help revive the animals,” he said.
The mask helped save Terry the tortoise, who's somewhat of a local celebrity in Medina. Six years ago, Blue rescued him on the side of a highway in Connecticut. Since then, he's become an ambassador for teaching kids about animals.
“A lot of kids know him and ask about him,” Blue said. “I've actually taken him to schools. He's just a really interesting animal to interact with. Not all of them are like that. He's very gentle and kind and tolerant, especially to little kids.”
Firefighters believe the cause of the fire was a heating fixture that malfunctioned.
Blue said that right now, he's not looking for donations, but if you would like to help, he suggested checking with your local fire department to see if you can donate toward buying more of the animal oxygen masks.