LONGVIEW, Wash. – For five years, Garth Pithan has been running the “Reptiles Road Show.” As part of the show, he brings his collection of snakes, turtles, lizards and even an alligator to kids at parties and other events.
But on Thursday afternoon, fire gutted Pithan’s house outside Longview, killing 75 of his around 100 beloved reptiles and amphibians.
“I was able to rescue about 20, 25 animals out of the fire after the fire department had put it out,” Pithan said on Friday.
The animals that did survive were lucky enough to be on the opposite side of the house from where the fire started.
“I’m kind of numb,” Pithan said. “It’s kind of hard to take everything in right now. I’ve had a real flood of emotion over the last day for sure.”
Pithan had lived in the home with all his reptiles for about five and a half years.
“It was just the perfect place,” he said. “It was big enough to hold all of my reptiles and I had this out building for the rodents.”
For now, the surviving animals are living in plastic tubs at Pithan’s father’s house until they can figure out what their next step is.
Pithan still doesn’t know what caused the fire. He had heat lamps for some of the animals, but said he’s been operating them for a while without incident.
His home is a total loss.
“There were still flames shooting out of it and I got weak in the knees and I felt sick,” he said. “This is everything that I have. I don’t even have a tooth brush.”