Reptiles and fish perish in Cottismore Garden Centre fire

Basingstoke Gazette: Fire fighters at the scene Fire fighters at the scene

HUNDREDS of fish and reptiles worth thousands of pounds have perished in a major fire at a Kingsclere garden centre.

Up to 35 fire fighters were dispatched to Cottismore Garden Centre, off the A339 Newbury Road north of Kingsclere shortly after 3pm this afternoon.

Incident commander, Dave Graham, from Basingstoke Fire Station's White Watch said at the scene, that the blaze had started in the wood-clad aquatic centre, which has been destroyed.

Eight fire fighters in breathing gear, along with three water jets and a specialist aerial ladder were used to douse the flames.

Five engines in total, from Basingstoke Fire station, as well as Tadley and Overton were called.

No injuries have been reported, and Mr Graham said the garden centre had been evacuated when crews reached the scene.

Although staff rescued a number of animals in the aquatic centre, 150 snakes and lizards and hundreds of tropical fish perished in the blaze.

Mr Graham added: "It was very challenging for our crews to tackle the fire in room-within-a-room and they did a great job in containing the flames. The owners also acted very quickly in removing gas cylinders away from the fire."

The cause of the blaze is thought to have been an electrical fault.

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