Fire that killed nearly all animals at Fayetteville pet shop was accidental, officials say

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A fire at a Fayetteville pet shop in April that killed nearly all the animals inside was caused by accident, according to a Fayetteville fire official.

Fayetteville Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Joseph McLamb confirmed to CBS 17 that the devastating April 25 fire was caused by “improperly discarded smoking materials” and was 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, according to officials.

According to the fire department, the first crews arrived on the scene to see smoke coming from the roof and the fire was then upgraded to a working fire. Shortly after crews arrived, the fire then broke through the roof and one firefighting team had to declare an emergency because of a ceiling collapse, fire officials said. That crew was able to get out of the store without any injuries.

The fire took more than two hours to extinguish.

According to McLamb, the fire began in an upstairs office above the pet shop and was unintentional.

McLamb said that based on what the owner told the fire department, upwards of 90-percent of the animals in the shop died as a result of the fire. Only a few animals — such as turtles, fish, several birds and some snakes — were able to be saved.

Owner Joseph Spano said the fish would be given away to the community and that some of the animals, like spiders and scorpions, died because of the water used to extinguish the fire.

Spano bought the shop in 1984 after working there while he was in the military.

“I really can’t describe what it was,” Spano told CBS 17 back in April. “It was my life, my family’s, life, my grandkids.”

Teddy Swatz has been a loyal customer for 20 years, saying the shop is a “staple for Fayetteville.”

“It’s kind of devastating to see this because a lot of childhood memories you know,” Swatz said in April. “I bring my daughter in here a lot too.”

“We trust in God, so we are going to go on,” Spano said.

The family is collecting donations to help rebuild. They say they did not have insurance.

The building is set to be demolished this week, McLamb told CBS 17.

According to Aqua-Rama’s Facebook page, they are relocating a few doors down to 4929 Bragg Blvd.

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