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Testudo Statue Fire on University of Md. Campus Ruled Accidental

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Students at the University of Maryland, College park placed a bandage on Testudo's nose after a fire broke out on the bronze statue early Wednesday morning. (Photo by John Domen/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

Students at the University of Maryland, College park placed a bandage on Testudo’s nose after a fire broke out on the bronze statue early Wednesday morning. (Photo by John Domen/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

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Update: Dec. 18, 2013 at 6:17 p.m.
Original: Dec. 18, 2013 at 6:59 a.m.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — The fire at the Testudo statue on the University of Maryland’s College Park campus was set accidentally, university police said Wednesday evening.

University of Maryland Police say they believe the blaze ignited when a lampshade was placed over a lighted candle. No one was hurt in the fire and police believe it wasn’t intentionally set.

It is a tradition for students at the College Park campus to leave “offerings” around the Testudo statue in front of McKeldin Library in exchange for good luck during finals.

Everything from food and drinks to strings of beads to copies of the campus newspaper can be found on the mascot’s concrete pedestal during finals week.

But, to the chagrin of students who idolize the iconic figure, debris around the statue caught fire at some point Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning and engulfed the bronze diamondback turtle in flames.

The fire was out before officers arrived, but images posted on social media showed flames billowing around the statue perched on a pedestal, which overlooks the campus mall.

On Wednesday morning, “Testudo” was trending on Twitter, where many passers-by have posted photos of the blaze.

WNEW’s John Domen reports that the statue was all patched up by 8 a.m. Wednesday. Someone left a bottle of lotion for him, to soothe his burns, and a bandage had been placed on his nose.

(Above photo taken by Will Friedman)

WNEW’s John Domen contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.

(TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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