Update: Monday, Jan. 7, 1:15 p.m.
Branford Fire Marshal Shaun Heffernan said the cause of the home fire at 268 Harbor Street on Monday was "improper use of a heating pad, which was used to heat a reptile cage."
The fire, which broke out just after 10:30 a.m. this morning, started on the second-floor of a two-story older home on Harbor Street where the reptile cage was located. "The unapproved use of the product," explained Heffernan, "resulted in overheating and caused combustibles in the immediate area to ignite."
Branford Fire Department crews from Headquarters and M.P. Rice Company 2 as well as Guilford Fire Department members responded to the Harbor Street home morning at 10:41 a.m. on the report of a fire.
When crews arrived, Branford Fire Chief Jack Ahern said they found the homeowner's grandson, 28, on the roof of the home attempting to put out the home fire with a garden hose. Branford Police report that the male had already removed his one-year-old daughter, his grandfather, 84, as well as two cats from the residence upon realizing there was a fire.
Police K-9 Officer David Atkinson confirmed at the scene that the resident had to be talked-off the roof by police. Atkinson said the resident was also trying to locate a third cat and a snake that were still inside the home. At this point those animals have not been found, said Atkinson.
Branford fire and police are not releasing the name of the home occupants at this time pending investigation; arson is not suspected. Ahern said the one-alarm fire is believed to have originated on the second floor in the back bedroom of the home. Branford town records show the second floor of the “old-style” home is 360 square-feet. The fire spread to the attic as well, which is an additional 360 square-feet, the records state. The fire did not extend to the first floor of the home though Branford building inspectors deemed the structure, which sustained smoke, fire and water damage uninhabitable.