LEWISTON, Maine — Cheers went up on River Street on Tuesday afternoon as — one by one — family pets cradled in the arms of firefighters emerged from the charred remains of a four-story apartment building on River Street.
It was at least three hours after fire consumed the building.
Tracy Benoit screamed as she ran to clutch her beloved cat, Max, who purred in Benoit’s arms, smoky and wet.
Benoit’s boyfriend, Scott Galarneau, was fighting tears as his pet iguana, Iggy, peered over his shoulder at the cheering crowds who witnessed the miraculous scene.
A firefighter reached into a window on the first floor and was handed a glass box containing the couple’s pet tarantula, Wilma.
Galarneau took the arachnid from the firefighter and ran back to the crowd.
“Is she alive, Scott?” someone yelled.
“Yes, she is. Yes, she is,” he said.
In addition to those pets, firefighters retrieved from the couple’s first-floor apartment at 34 River St. a red-tailed boa constrictor, Buddah. The couple’s poodle, Frankie, also escaped injury.
“My zoo has been saved,” a tearful Benoit said.
On the third floor of the building, firefighters found Bailey, a scared but otherwise uninjured brown and white spaniel belonging to Dave Gravel.
In Rumford, a Pomeranian named Max was found curled up on a bed in an apartment of a building that lost its two top floors to a Monday night fire.
Twelve hours after the fire, the dog was taken from the building, singed and shivering. It was found by Tara Amburg, a friend of the dog’s owner, as Amburg salvaged personal items from the wreckage.
Amburg’s son and his father lived in the building.