Maligned as pesky urban pests and reviled for making a mess on perfectly good roosting spots that happen to resemble beloved historical figures, pigeons are now facing far more serious accusations.
Firefighters investigating the cause of an apartment fire in south London last night say a careless pigeon with a lit cigarette is, oddly enough, the most likely culprit.
After extinguishing the blaze, which began on the roof of the building and forced the evacuation of nine residents, fire crews were baffled at first about what exactly had happened.
"No one had been up to there for a long time and there were no electrics that could have sparked the blaze," Matt Cullen from the London Fire Brigade tells the Telegraph.
Then began the blame game.
When investigators learned that some birds -- pigeons, no less -- had been seen flying out of a hole in the roof, they looked and conveniently discovered the partially burned remains of a nest -- circumstantial evidence at best that Cullen and his team seized upon as "the smoking gun."