AROUND 100 snakes had to be rescued by fire fighters after they escaped during a 'severe fire' in a four storey house.

Fire crews from Banbury and Hook Norton Fire Station attended the blaze in a basement of a house in Middleton Road, Banbury on Sunday.

On arrival the occupier informed the crews that a large number of snakes and exotic animals were kept in the property.

Four fire fighters wearing breathing apparatus and using high pressure hose reels managed to make their way into the basement with thermal imaging cameras to extinguish the fire.

A large fan was used to remove the smoke which had spread throughout the building and it was at this point that crews reported that a large number of snakes had escaped from their housing.

Around 100 snakes in total were recovered by fire fighters to be reunited with their owner for rehoming.

The cause of the fire was thought to be electrical.

Watch Manager John Callaway said “We quickly established that the snakes were non-venomous and that no specialist assistance was needed.

"It was unfortunate that some hadn't survived the fire but many were saved.

"It is not uncommon for fires to be started due to an electrical fault and I urge anyone with concerns about fire safety in the home to visit our website or to seek advice from a competent electrician."