Joe Spano has owned Aqua-Rama Pet Center for almost 40 years.
Spano told ABC11 he was heartbroken.
“It was my life. To be honest with you, the life of my family, my grandchildren, everyone,” Spano said.
The Fayetteville Fire Department responded to the pet center along Bragg Boulevard at around 7:40 p.m. Sunday in reference to smoke billowing from the roof.
Fire Marshal Joseph McLamb said firefighters arrived at the scene and saw conditions worsening, leading to more teams being called for help.
McLamb said fire, smoke and water played a role in some of the pets being unsuccessful. Spano told ABC11 that a dozen of his pets have died, including exotic birds, hamsters, scorpions and spiders.
Spano and his family spent all Monday working alongside firefighters to remove live fish and turtles that remained in the building.
Fire Marshal McLamb said the building was considered a total loss, saying its metal support beams were warped by heat.
Monica Bethea, a Fayetteville mother and frequent customer, stopped by the store Monday to see if the family needed help with cleaning.
Bethea spoke to ABC11 in a touching interview saying, “We come every other day to buy crickets, and we always get help from there and they are also very helpful and kind, and that’s so sad to see that. “
Spano said he had owned the pet store since 1984 and had worked in the company before that during his time in the military.
“I have like three and four generations who came to this store as I waited on their grandmothers, their children, their grandchildren,” Spano said.
Her daughter, Dawn Trivette, was there to help with the cleanup efforts. “Since I was two, so it’s pretty devastating.”
Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire.
The family said they had no insurance and didn’t know what the future held for them.
“We will continue. We trust in God, so we will continue,” Spano said.
Trivette set up a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising enough money to rebuild the business. If you would like to help, you can donate on site or contact their Facebook page.
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