FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The owner of Aqua-Rama Pet Shop says about a dozen animals died, including exotic birds and snakes, after the Fayetteville store caught fire Sunday night.

“All the spiders, scorpions, we lost all of them,” Joseph Spano said. “Not from the smoke, we lost them from water because they can’t swim good.”

Several pets were rescued including fish, turtles and some birds and snakes.

“Saved a bunch of fish that we are going to give away to the community,” Spano said.

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

“I really can’t describe what it was,” Spano said, tearing up. “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. “I bring my daughter in here a lot too.”

Firefighters are working to determine how the fire started, while customers pitch in to help the family.

“I’m sorry about all the animals that they did lose,” Swatz said. “I’m definitely here to help them with whatever they may need help with now.”

“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.