FAYETTEVILLE, NC (WNCN) – A fire at a Fayetteville pet store in April that killed nearly all of the animals inside was caused by accident, according to a Fayetteville Fire Department official.
Fayetteville Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Joseph McLamb confirmed to CBS 17 that the devastating April 25 blaze was caused by “improperly discarded smoking materials” and that it was a an accident.
Fayetteville Fire Department crews responded to the Aqua-Rama Pet Center at 7:40 p.m. in reference to a report of smoke coming from the roof of the store in the 4900 block of Bragg Boulevard, officials said.
According to the fire department, the first crews arrived on the scene to see smoke billowing from the roof and the fire was later turned into a working fire. Shortly after crews arrived, the fire then erupted through the roof and a fire crew had to declare an emergency due to a collapsed ceiling, fire officials said. This crew was able to exit the store without any injuries.
The fire took more than two hours to extinguish.
According to McLamb, the fire started in an upstairs office above the pet store and was unintentional.
McLamb said that from what the owner told firefighters, more than 90% of the pets in the store died as a result of the fire. Only a few animals – such as turtles, fish, several birds and a few snakes – could be saved.
Owner Joseph Spano said the fish would be donated to the community and some animals, such as spiders and scorpions, died from the water used to put out the fire.
Spano bought the store in 1984 after working there while in the military.
“I really can’t describe what it was like,” Spano told CBS 17 in April. “It was my life, my family’s life, my grandchildren’s life.”
Teddy Swatz has been a loyal customer for 20 years, saying the store is a “Fayetteville staple.”
“It’s kind of devastating to see that because you know a lot of childhood memories,” Swatz said in April. “I often bring my daughter here too.”
“We trust in God, so we’ll keep going,” Spano said.
The family collects donations to help with the reconstruction. They say they had no insurance.
The building is expected to be demolished this week, McLamb told CBS 17.
According to Aqua-Rama’s Facebook page, they’re moving a few doors down to 4929 Bragg Blvd.