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Cottage Grove house fire: Python rescued, owner arrested for obstruction

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Officials in Cottage Grove are sorting through an unusual set of circumstances as they investigate the cause of a fire that badly damaged a house in the city Monday night.

The blaze broke out at the home in the 8400 block of Hinton Avenue shortly after 8 p.m. and did extensive damage to the home, destroyed the garage and damaged the exterior of a neighbor's house, according to the South Washington County Bulletin.

Nobody was home at the time of the fire, and no one was injured. However, a 4-foot-long python was found alive in a cage in the basement. The family's dog died in the blaze, and a cat is unaccounted for, according to the Bulletin.

The cause is still under investigation, and Fire Chief Rick Redenius said Tuesday morning the circumstances are raising a few questions.

"We don't understand why there was so much damage," Redenius said, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, noting that there's a fire station within a mile of the house and responders were on the scene within minutes.

The Cottage Grove police department and the state fire marshal will assist with the investigation, Redenius said, “because of the quickness of this fire and other information relayed by the police department," according to the Bulletin.

The owners were away when the fire broke out, but returned around 9:15 p.m. as firefighters were still on the scene. The husband was arrested after police say he drove a vehicle over a fire hose and threatened to assault a neighbor, the Bulletin reports.

He was arrested on suspicion of obstructing the legal process with force and disorderly conduct. He was booked into the Washington County jail pending formal criminal charges.

Fire departments from St. Paul Park, Woodbury and Hastings also assisted.

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