By Anna Giles

LODI (CBS13) — Firefighters recently performed a reptile rescue that required major heavy lifting.

Last Wednesday, Lodi firefighters saved 12 giant tortoises trapped by fire inside a multi-unit building where they were being housed.

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Firefighters came fast to help the slow-moving reptiles.

“We had a little bit of a challenge getting those turtles out because some of them weighed up to 150, 160 pounds,” said Lodi Fire Department Batallion Chief Tim Ortegel.

Some of their shells were up to four feet wide. Ortegel said it took two men, one on each side, to carry the turtles out.

“We always used to joke, they used to house snakes and lizards and other stuff there and there were certain individuals that were like ‘if that place ever catches on fire I am not going into it,” he said.

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Ortegel says the tortoises belong to the Lodi Serpentarium. An employee there transported the animals by truck to live elsewhere. At least one suffered a burn injury.

CBS13 spoke to tortoise rescuer Ken Hoffman, who rescued two tortoises from the Camp Fire in Butte County.

“The burns were severe. You have to have pain medicine,” Hoffman said. “I had to take him to UC Davis twice a week for over two months.”

Ken says recovery can take months. He hopes these tortoises rescued find a good home and said he’s proud of the firefighters brave enough to save these gentle giants.

“Those guys are my heroes, absolutely,” Hoffman said.

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Firefighters are still investigating what caused this fire, but the evidence so far points to an electrical issue.