A large structure fire that destroyed a Maryland home in November was caused by the homeowner's ill-fated attempt to clear a snake infestation by smoking them out, according to local fire officials.
According to a tweet from Pete Piringer, public information officer for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, an investigation revealed that the fire on Big Woods Road near Poolesville on Nov. 23 was accidentally caused when the anti-snake smoke source — coals — came too close to combustibles.
The fire started in the basement walls and floors and then spread upward, eventually causing over $1 million in damages.
Neighbors saw and reported the fire; nobody was injured.
"It is believed that the heat source was too close to the combustibles and caused fire in the walls and ceiling area, unknown and unbeknownst to the homeowner at that time," Piringer said, describing the destroyed building as a "very large home."
“The snakes — the original culprits of this process — which the homeowner was trying to eradicate from this space using smoke apparently did not go as planned,” Piringer said in a recorded statement on Dec. 3.
Piringer said that insurance investigators have taken over after Montgomery County investigators determined the fire to be accidental in nature.
As for the snakes, Piringer thinks they have likely left "at least temporarily."
"I’m not a wildlife expert but at the time of the fire some firefighters did see some snake skins while others found one coming out of the foundation," Piringer said in a text message to NBC News.
Firefighters moved the snake that emerged from the burned-down home and "were able to retrieve it and move it safely to a different environment."