Snakes scare off 85 firemen

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 said 85 firefighters beat a hasty retreat from a burning barn east of Vienna after a neighbour told them to watch out for the reptiles kept inside by the owner.

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

One of the reptiles was nearly 2 metres long.

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