Firefighters who fought a blaze at a house in the tropical Australian city of Darwin on Thursday contended with the added distraction of being watched by a 4-metre pet crocodile.
The fire destroyed the two-story house in the upscale suburb of Fannie Bay but did not harm the huge reptile that lives in a backyard enclosure, firefighter Bill Gleeson said.
“Thankfully the crocodile didn’t affect our operations at all,” Gleeson told reporters.
“It’s well contained and clearly unaffected by fire. He seemed quite happy to look at me as I was protecting the premises,” Gleeson added.
Wildlife ranger Tom Nichols said crocodiles were rare in the Darwin suburbs. The pet had been living at the property since before crocodiles became a protected species under federal law in the early 1970s.
Gleeson said there was no one was in the house by the time firefighters arrived. The cause of the fire was under investigation.
Authorities have yet to decide whether the croc will have to be moved.
Crocodile numbers have exploded across Australia’s tropical north since they became protected after decades of hunting. Because saltwater crocodiles can live up to 70 years and grow throughout their lives — reaching up to 7 metres (23 feet) in length — the proportion of large crocodiles is also rising.