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Creepy Crawlies Flee The Heat

Wildfires aren't the only things firefighters are coping with these days: the brutal heat wave has driven snakes, rodents, spiders and other pests into homes, and frightened residents are calling fire departments for help.

"We're averaging between two to eight calls a day for snakes, usually in...areas that interface with wildlands. There's tarantulas around, too," fire spokeswoman Sandi Wells said Tuesday.

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Ventura College student Nina Delorme came face-to-face with a rattlesnake in the bathroom on Monday.

"I freaked out," she said. "I started screaming and screaming."

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Ventura County firefighters captured the snake and decapitated it with a shovel, a common method of dealing with pests.

"We don't relocate snakes in L.A. County. We kill them," said inspector Ed Loney of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, which also reported a rise in calls.

Officials say the heat may be bringing them inside homes, but El Nino is being blamed for dumping heavy winter rain that caused more vegetation and a burgeoning pest population.

Frank Blair, fire division chief of Camp Pendleton, said he's never seen so many pests to control in the rural stretch of San Diego County.

"I think it's because of the rain," Blair said Tuesday. "There are more spider webs inside and outside. There are more bees and a lot more snakes. They're everywhere."

Temperatures have been in the 100s and lightning has touched off dozens of wildfires across Southern California, destroying 26 homes and burning across 30,000 acres.

Written by Jeff Wilson

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