CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A fire tears through a Clearwater home. While no one was inside, there were dogs, cats, lizards and snakes.
Just before 7:30 p.m. Austin McMullen was at his home when he heard a loud boom he thought was a transformer. He walked toward Lake Avenue South to check it out when he saw a home was on fire.
McMullen realized it was his mother's house. He knew she wasn't there, but one reason still had him running straight into the burning home.
“I have to get the animals out," said McMullen. That thought was going through his head as he searched the home. Inside were a dog, two cats, two lizards, and two ball pythons.
McMullen managed to save their dog.
“The smoke hadn’t gotten into the house yet, but it started to break through the windows and started to fill the house," McMullen said.
He quickly ran out of breath and Austin had no choice but to run out. That is when help arrived. Around 50 firefighters from Clearwater Fire & Rescue and Largo Fire Rescue began attacking the flames.
With no people inside they were able to bring out the animals one-by-one. They even used oxygen masks to help out the cats. While all the animals got out, one of the cats died.
A firefighter also had a minor hand injury, but we're told he's going to be ok. A few factors made this fire tough for the first responders. The fire was so intense it got all the way to the roof. Plus, the outside high heat and humidity forced extra units to be called in.
Now all the animals but one are safely in cages and buckets. But their owners are left wondering how it all came to this point.
“I just want to know how it started," said McMullen.
Investigators want to know that, too. They are on scene working to figure it out. The home is uninhabitable, but the owners do have a place to stay.