Candle and Lampshade Caused Accidental Fire at Testudo Mascot Statue

Offerings to statue part of a exam-time tradition at University of Maryland

The candle, one can only imagine, was lit for good luck in finals season and as an offering to get out of the semester unscathed. But that's not how it worked out Wednesday morning for Testudo, the bronze statue of the University of Maryland's mascot.

A candle left unattended at the statue ignited a lampshade (another offering) at about 1 a.m. Wednesday and caused a fire that lit up the early morning at College Park.

Testudo was unhurt, but someone stuck a small bandage on his nose afterward.

Testudo -- a 300-pound bronze terrapin filled with an extra 700 pounds of cement -- often receives "offerings" from students, such as cigarettes, candles, notes and food when they're hoping for good grades on finals.

At about 1 a.m. Wednesday, university police officers responded to the statue outside the school's McKeldin Library for the report of a fire. The officers discovered that offerings to Testudo had been set on fire, but that the blaze had been extinguished before their arrival.

Later Wednesday, the blaze was ruled accidental. The shade may have been placed over the candle, police said.

"I am happy to report that there was no damage to Testudo in front of McKeldin," UMD President Wallace D. Loh wrote on Twitter. "Testudo is ready to continue supporting our #UMD community!"

A photo of Testudo on Twitter around 8 a.m. Wednesday shows the statue with new get-well offerings of orange juice, Neosporin, a coloring book and flashcards.

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