Brittany couple saved from fire by parrot shrieking ‘It's hot!’

The ‘hero’ parrot was the first to notice something was wrong in the dead of night

A view of a grey pet parrot in a bird cage
Baby the parrot normally does not talk at night, so when his owners heard him, they immediately knew something was wrong (image for illustration only)
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A couple in Brittany was saved from a house fire by their pet parrot after the bird made coughing sounds and said: “It's hot!”.

The parrot, aged six and named Baby, was the first to notice something was wrong in the home in Lannilis, in northern Finistère. He began talking in the small hours of Sunday, November 5. This woke up his sleeping owners, and meant they quickly discovered that the dishwasher had caught fire.

The couple - Virginie and Gilles - told local radio: “At night, he [normally] doesn’t talk, we don’t ever hear him.”

So when Baby began imitating coughing sounds and saying: ‘Ouh c’est chaud, olala c’est chaud, c’est chaud (Oh, it’s hot, oh my gosh, it’s hot, it’s hot)’, the couple immediately knew something was wrong.

They got up to check, and immediately smelled a strong odour in the main room, “as if someone was burning a tyre in the house”. They discovered that it was coming from behind the dishwasher, unplugged it, and quickly called the fire brigade.

The emergency services said that the couple possibly owed the parrot their lives, because “we could have passed out due to the vapours”.

They said: “If Baby hadn’t got us out of bed, we could have suffocated. We might not even have woken up, and if we hadn’t unplugged the washing machine, we could have died. We might say that Baby saved our lives.”

They are now calling Baby “their hero”, after the fire brigade said they “owed him a real debt of gratitude”. After the event, Virginie presented a video for France Bleu, showing Baby perched on her shoulder, as she recounted the dramatic incident.

“I think he really knew that something wasn’t right, that the air he was breathing wasn’t good, the fact that he was coughing, and he was warning us: ‘Hey, something’s happening here, it’s not right’,” Virginie said.

Not all pet parrots can talk, but those that do are vocal learners, meaning they can “grasp sounds and imitate them”, according to US bird authority Audubon. They use this to share information and “fit in with the flock” when in the wild, researchers say. Some can even learn regional dialects, and speak several languages.

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