18 reptiles and birds die in museum fire in San Bernardino County

More than a dozen small animals died Thursday when a reptile museum in San Bernardino County caught fire, authorities said.
(San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department)

A San Bernardino County reptile museum caught fire Thursday, killing 18 animals inside, authorities said. Fourteen others were rescued.

Turtles, geckos, snakes, parakeets and other small animals at the Mountain Town Reptile Museum in Oak Glen are believed to have perished. Some macaws and African gray parrots were rescued, however, said Jenny Smith, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

The blaze damaged the museum building, but animals — goats, deer and geese — in pens outside were unharmed, she said.

Firefighters responded to the fire shortly before noon, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The fire is now contained. The cause is still under investigation.


Police initially reported that around 100 animals were killed in the blaze but revised that number after surveying the damage, authorities said.

“The owners were able to take better inventory and believe approximately 14 animals died as a result of the fire and not 100 as originally thought,” the Sheriff’s Department’s office in Yucaipa said on Facebook.