Arsonist catfish starts fire

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An arsonist catfish is believed to have started a fire at a house in Dorset.

According to a story in The Times, the fire at the home of Sharron Killahena of Poole in Dorset was started when the lighting on her aquarium malfunctioned after the power socket was splashed with water by one of her fish.

The water dripping into the socket caused a short circuit and a power surge that caused the light to catch fire. As the aquarium canopy started to burn it dripped molten, burning plastic onto the nearby sofa, causing the fire to spread.

The Times says that Killahena, her two young children and their landlord were woken by a smoke alarm and managed to escape. They were treated in hospital for smoke inhalation.

Twisted firestarter?

Killahena told The Times that she believes the 20cm/8" plec in her aquarium may have been responsible for splashing the water, as it frequently fought playfully with the Oscars in her 150cm/5' tropical freshwater tank.

She told The Times: "We have big fish in the tank - oscars, which are up to 25cm/10" long. One of the oscars and the catfish tend playfully to fight each other.

"In the past when they have done this they have moved rocks in the tank because of the waves they create. Water has managed to get through the lid and on to the floor.

"Sadly it looks like that has happened here. But the water got on to the plugs below, caused the light to malfunction and started the fire.

"Absolutely everything is ruined and the sitting room is gutted. The rest of the house is completely blackened by the smoke. You work so hard to get things perfect and then something like this happens."

The heat of the fire caused the aquarium to crack and the fish died in the blaze.

Fire investigators are looking at the light unit and electrics to determine how the fire was started and whether the fish may have been responsible.