One to two dozen small animals, from parrots to guinea pigs to turtles, died in a fire that engulfed a Centereach pet store Thursday, the SPCA said.
Rescue groups and local veterinarians all stepped up to help the 50 to 75 survivors, including a cat, three rabbits, mice, rats, hamsters, fish, a tortoise, snakes and lizards.
“It’s really miraculous how many tanks were removed from the fire,” said SPCA Officer Jennifer Pape said by telephone. “It could have been much worse.”
Suffolk police said the blaze destroyed Magic Isle Aquarium & Pets and damaged other stores in the small strip mall on Middle Country Road. There were no reported injuries to people, police said.
The fire was reported in a 911 call at 10:06 a.m., Suffolk fire officials said. Officials said firefighters from several departments, including Centereach, Selden, Stony Brook, Ronkonkoma, Nesconset, Farmingville and Coram, battled the blaze.
The Brookhaven Town fire marshal responded to the scene and is investigating the cause of the fire, but police said indications are it is not suspicious.
Some aquariums joined the other rescue groups to “try to salvage as many fish as there were in there,” Pape said.
Before being sent on to rescue groups, the surviving animals were assessed by vets.
“The last report I got was everybody who survived was doing OK,” Pape said.
The parrots who perished were a Cockatiel, known for their distinctive crests, and an African Grey, prized for its ability to imitate human speech.
“The three bunnies I know are doing OK,” Pape said. “I rushed them into the ambulance for oxygen, they were so cute and so scared.”
Two of the rabbits were recovered swiftly, while another was found after a search.
“One survived the fire, and all of the water, and was found later, hiding underneath a tank in the store,” she said. “That one I immediately grabbed and rushed in for medical attention right away.”
The owner of the pet store, who was not immediately available for comment, will have to decide whether to request foster homes or adopters for the surviving creatures, Pape said.
— With John Valenti