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Man bitten by rattlesnake in luggage

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  • NEW: High school rowing coach had been on trip with students to South Carolina
  • A 10-inch-long diamondback rattlesnake killed by blast from fire extinguisher
  • Victim treated at hospital; bite reportedly not life-threatening
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ARLINGTON, Virginia (CNN) -- A suburban Washington man was bitten Monday by a rattlesnake that found its way into his luggage, a fire department spokesman said.

An Eastern diamondback rattlesnake appears in a photo from the U.S. Geological Survey.

"He felt a sharp pain, brought his hand out and saw the bite," said Benjamin Barksdale, assistant chief and chief fire marshal of the Arlington County, Virginia, Fire Department.

Andrew Bacas zipped his bag shut and called 911 at about 9:30 a.m. ET, the official said.

"He was conscious and alert but a little anxious," Barksdale said of the victim. The bite from the young Eastern diamond rattlesnake was not life-threatening, and the man is being treated at Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, he said.

"We took the bag outside and used a [carbon dioxide] fire extinguisher to freeze the snake," killing it, Barksdale said.

Bacas, a high school rowing coach, had been on a six-day trip to Summerton, South Carolina, with about 80 students, said Mike Krulfeld, director of student activities at Yorktown High School in Arlington.

Krulfeld said he did not think the incident was a student prank. "It's been rare to find a coach who is as well-liked and highly regarded as Andy. I would find it hard to believe they would do anything even in the name of a prank that would cause harm to him," Krulfeld said.

The Web site of the school's crew team warned members to take precautions unpacking from the trip, adding, "It's advisable to open bags and unpack outdoors."

"It got into his bag somehow at the location where they were staying," said Kay Speerstra, executive director of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. "Nobody noticed it until he was unpacking, and then he definitely noticed it."

Speerstra said the snake was about 10 inches long and appeared to be a juvenile. E-mail to a friend

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