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Firefighter rescues 6-foot python from Michigan blaze

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March 30, 2014: This photo provided by Gordon Cole, firefighter Scott Hemmelsbach holds a python after rescuing it from a burning home in Muskegon, Mich. (AP/Courtesy of Gordon Cole)

A firefighter put his reptile-handling experience to good use when he rescued a 6-foot-long python from a burning home in western Michigan.

Muskegon firefighter Scott Hemmelsbach told The Muskegon Chronicle that he reluctantly agreed to enter the two-story, smoke-filled house Sunday night to retrieve the snake. He says he cradled the "weighty" snake before carrying it to safety.

"It was trying to crawl up the side of his terrarium and get out," Hemmelsbach said. "His face was pushed up on the screen and trying to get out. There was a lot of smoke and he was trapped."

The firefighter said he learned how to handle snakes while he was at Grand Haven High School, where he helped showcase them.

"I'd take them around and show them to the kids in the elementary classes," he said. "That didn't bother me at all."

When Hemmelsbach reached the python inside the home, he gingerly handled him so not to scare the reptile.

"I removed the screen off the top and knew to approach it by coming up behind his head. He became very active, and I was glad because that meant that he was OK."

Two people in the home escaped without injury, fire officials said. The fire significantly damaged the home, and the cause is under investigation.

"I would do it for any creature," Hemmelsbach said. "I'm just glad it had a happy ending."

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