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Firefighters pull back in fear of venomous snakes

January 4, 2012
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VIENNA—Hoses weren't the only things uncoiling at this blaze. Austrian firefighters answering an alarm found something their training didn't prepare them for -- a trove of highly venomous snakes.

Fire department spokesman Franz Resperger says 85 fire fighters beat a hasty retreat from a burning barn east of Vienna after a neighbor told them to watch out for the reptiles kept by the owner inside.

The blaze was finally quenched Tuesday after an expert summoned to the scene captured seven snakes, including an Indian cobra and two Australian taipans -- all packing potent venom that Resperger said there was no antidote for in Austria.

He says one of the reptiles was nearly 2 meters -- over 2 yards -- long.

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