San Francisco Chronicle; Wednesday, April 16, 1997

Iguana Blamed in School Fire

George Snyder
Chronicle North Bay Bureau

A restless iguana is being blamed for touching off a three alarm fire that started in a school lab at Napa's Vintage High School early yesterday. Napa Fire Department Captain Scott Sedgley said the blaze damaged six classrooms and caused about $750,OOO in damage.

The caged iguana, named "Iggy," apparently knocked over a heat lamp in a science classroom -- possibly by hitting it with his tail -- igniting nearby, combustible material, Sedgley said. The fire was reported by a night custodian at about 2:30 a.m. Heavy smoke rolled from the school building as firefighters sped to the scene. Sedgley said he had heard of three fires in the past five years caused by reptiles knocking over heat lamps.

According to Vintage High school Principal Stan Smart, Iggy was found in his cage, alive but slightly injured. He was sent to Napa High School for safekeeping. Smart said the fire affected only a building that contains science labs and classrooms. Some of Vintage's 2,100 students got to attend outdoor classes in the quad area on a beautiful spring day. Other classes were combined. Smart said he expected portable classrooms to arrive on campus Monday to replace the lost space.