By late morning, carbon monoxide levels had dropped to a safe degree, enabling local rescuers to work together with firefighters to rescue living animals and to remove those that had perished, Chief Belk said. Ms. Flynn, the owner, was also allowed to enter.
“We were able to rescue the alligators, crocodiles, caimans, tortoises, turtles, some of the lizards, a snake, two tarantulas and the scorpions,” Ms. Flynn said by phone Thursday night. She noted that the other snakes, tarantulas, lizards as well as two stingrays, a shark and all of the saltwater fish had died. The fresh water used to fight the fire had contaminated the fish tank, she said, adding that she believed some of the lizards had survived by burying their heads in sand, and the alligators by holding their breath underwater.
“The mammals died from smoke inhalation, because they breathe just like we do,” Ms. Flynn said, noting that she had lost two skunks, a Prevost’s squirrel, two rabbits and a genet. Among the most devastating of losses was her Vietnamese potbellied pig, Barley, who was found dead by the front door of the facility. “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 saved in a stroke of luck. Ms. Flynn had brought the animals home Wednesday evening with the intention of taking them to the vet. In the wake of the fire, she also took home 13 alligators and an Argentine Taegu. Her employees took in the surviving tortoises, birds and lizards. Several other animals were taken to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, she said.
Ms. Flynn said that around three-quarters of the building had survived the fire, and that the water damage was extensive. But she said she had already spoken with her landlord, who had offered to help rebuild.