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ROME, N.Y. -- A pet store in Rome and another home are a total loss, and a neighboring home was destroyed following a massive fire.
Fire firefighters have been on the scene of the fire on North James Street since the early morning hours.
The fire chief says everyone made it out safely, but all of the pets died in the fire, and people have been evacuated from buildings nearby.
The Rome Fire Department has been on the scene of a fire at Peterson's Exotic Pets since 4:30 a.m. Another building next door has also been destroyed because of the fire. #WKTV #Rome pic.twitter.com/PIESQY4swM
— Rachel Murphy (@RMurphyWKTV) February 28, 2019
Crews have been on the scene for almost eight hours trying to get the fire under control – a fire so massive you could see the smoke for miles coming into Rome.
The chief says the fire started on the first floor, but there was a man living in an apartment with his dog on the second floor. Officials say he is a veteran.
The smoke alarm was going off in his apartment around 4:30 a.m. He was in a wheelchair, but crews were able to get the man and his dog out safely.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the man and his dog.
Snakes, hamsters, fish and a parrot all died in the fire.
— Kirk Tupaj (@kirk2pi) February 28, 2019
The chief says because the fire was so massive businesses nearby were forced to leave for their own safety.
“Evacuate the building actually for precautionary reasons, probably four buildings down just so that you never know things go wrong, they go wrong. So just a precautionary. We evacuated five buildings down the street. The fire was confined to the first two buildings. It originated from what the crews had seen on the initial response – it originated on the first floor of the pet store,” said Rome Fire Department Chief Ron Brement.
The chief says he doesn’t know when people will be able to come back to those buildings. But there are other businesses on the block that are still open.
The cold conditions made it more difficult for firefighters at the scene of the fire.