By late morning, carbon monoxide levels had dropped to a safe level, allowing local responders to work with firefighters to rescue live animals and remove any that had died, Chief Belk said. Mrs. Flynn, the owner, was also allowed in.
« We were able to rescue alligators, crocodiles, caimans, tortoises, tortoises, some lizards, a snake, two tarantulas and the scorpions, » Ms. Flynn said by telephone on Thursday evening. She noticed that the other snakes, tarantulas, lizards and two rays, a shark and all the saltwater fish were dead. The fresh water used to fight the fire had contaminated the fish tank, she said, adding that she believed some of the lizards survived by burying their heads in the sand and the alligators by holding their breath underwater.
« The mammals died from smoke inhalation, because they breathe just like us, » Ms. Flynn said, noting that she lost two skunks, a Prevost’s squirrel, two rabbits and a genet. Among her most devastating losses was her Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, Barley, who was found dead in front of the facility’s door. “He tried to get out,” she said through tears.
Two lemurs could be heard screeching in the background. Along with a Fennec fox, all had been rescued in a fluke. Mrs. Flynn had brought those animals home Wednesday night with the intention of taking them to the vet. In the wake of the fire, she also took home 13 alligators and an Argentine Daegu. Her employees took in the surviving turtles, birds and lizards. Several other animals were taken to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, she said.
Ms Flynn said about three-quarters of the building survived the fire and the water damage was extensive. But she said she had already spoken to her landlord, who she had offered to help rebuild.