Clovis store cleaning up after sprinklers kill animals

FRESNO, Calif.

They say the flames set off the sprinkler system at the store on Shaw and Minnewawa, but the alarm failed, causing the water to run for hours.

Some of the water is still left behind on the floor at Taylor's Reptiles.

The manager says the fire broke out overnight Sunday and by the time someone noticed the water Monday morning the floor was flooded, tanks were soaked and about two dozen reptiles drowned.

A crusted gecko is one of hundreds of reptiles manager Hannah Smith is keeping a close eye on after a fire broke out at Taylor Reptiles, stressing the animals.

The fire broke out sometime after 10 Sunday after employees closed up shop for the night.

Heat from the flames set off the sprinklers but they never shut off, flooding the floor and the enclosures holding exotic snakes, lizards and dragons.

"All their tanks were flooded. I mean flooded all the way to the top," Walker said.

24 of them died, including a rare breed of red tail boa constrictor the store claims was the only living one in the world.

On Tuesday workers rushed to move the reptiles to a vacant space next door to dry out the tanks and keep the doors open for business while fire investigators worked to determine a cause.

"We haven't really ruled anything out. There's nothing obvious at the moment. There is a possibility it could be electrical, but it's still undetermined right now," Andrew Isolano of Clovis Fire said.

They say it was a wiring problem that prevented the alarm system from sounding off and alerting the fire department.

And while animals died and water caused about 150-thousand dollars in damages, firefighters insist the damage could've been worse.

"If the sprinklers hadn't gone off, this has a common attic that runs the whole length of this building, if that fire would have gotten up in there it would have taken out the whole building," Isolano said.

A repairman has now fixed the alarm and sprinkler system and employees say insurance should pay for damage to the building, but it likely won't cover the cost of the animals that were lost.

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