Bay Ridge Apartment Fire Blamed on Pet Tortoise


Being a tortoise is really unfair sometimes. You have to carry this big shell around on your back (fortunately, it’s awesome for hiding under, like when you run into someone at the mall who you just don’t feel like small-talking it up with). You’re known as being sort of “slow,” but also reliable, and who wants that on their chest? You live in a glass house, and you know what they say about those types. Plus, everyone’s calling you a turtle when you’re a goddamn tortoise, get it right, people! But such is life for a tortoise like Giovani, whom the New York Post has dubbed “troublemaking,” even though they barely know him, and fire marshals have blamed for a fast-moving Bay Ridge apartment fire.

As the story goes…Giovani is 6, and the size of a basketball, and somehow he was able to get out of his terrarium by tipping it over, somehow crashing his heat lamp into a pile of art supplies, including paint thinner and paint, which he must have put there himself. Somehow!

Within minutes, flames tore through the third-floor Fifth Avenue apartment that Salem, an art student at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, shared with his family.

Meanwhile, Giovani just laughed, as tortoises will when they set apartment fires, and said, look at me, humans, look what I can do!

Actually, Giovani went to the kitchen, where he was rescued, as was his entire human family. Another turtle was killed, and a firefighter and three cops were injured. After an initial assessment of an electrical fire, eyes turned to Giovani.

Still, Giovani’s owner, the 18-year-old Mohamed Salem, is not so quick to assign blame.

“I don’t think he could have done it. If it was him, he would done it the first time I got him” a couple months ago, Mohamed said at his parents’ nearby store, Pyramids Jewelry International.

That may be true, and then, it may not be. Tortoises are notoriously crafty. In any case, humans, shall we put the paint thinner away?

Inferno was hot as shell [NYP]