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Fire Destroys Popular Pet Shop In Beach Park

(Credit: CBS)

(Credit: CBS)

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BEACH PARK, Ill. (CBS) — A fire at a neighborhood pet store in Lake County over the weekend claimed the lives of all the pets inside.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports, flames broke out at the Happyland Pet Center, at 11432 W. Wadsworth Rd. in Beach Park, just after 6 a.m. Sunday.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Brandis Friedman reports

Eventually, 15 fire departments and 70 firefighters from Lake County and southern Wisconsin came to the scene to fight the extra-alarm fire that destroyed the two-story building.

A store employee told the Lake County News-Sun the store sold its last puppy in stock on Saturday. But the reptiles, mice, gerbils and hamsters inside did not survive.

The store owners, Nancy and Mike Zobrist, and their daughter, Kristina, were out of town at the time, the newspaper reported. They also lived in the pet shop building, according to the paper.

The store was a mom-and-pop business that locals liked to frequent, including Megan McGaughey of Beach Park.

“I remember going there when I was a kid,” McGaughey said. “It’s got to have been there for at least 20 years. It’s been there for as long as I can remember.”

Customers became familiar with the store’s mascots — a black shepherd and a large Rottweiler, that would lounge on the floor at the place. They are pets of owner Nancy Zobrist.

Neighbors told McGaughey and her family that they heard a loud boom around 6 a.m.

“They thought at first something might have happened at the airport, or with a plane,” she said. Around 6:20 a.m., her husband Kevin heard fire engines racing down Wadsworth Road.

“Everybody knew that place,” McGaughey said. “We’d go there all the time to get food for our cat.”

“My daughter will be devastated. She loved going there and seeing the animals. I used to always play with the kittens myself, stick my fingers in the cage. It’s so sad this happened,” she said.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)