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West Little Havana Strip Mall Fire Kills 30 Puppies

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After Miami firefighters got control of a blaze tearing through a strip mall in west Little Havana late last night, they made a gruesome discovery inside the charred building: at least 30 puppies dead inside a gutted pet shop.

"That smoke filled up that entire building pretty quickly," Lt. Ignatius Carroll, a fire department spokesman, tells Riptide. "There was no way to save those puppies."

The fire broke out around 10 last night in a building at NW Seventh Street and 32nd Court and quickly grew large enough that 40 firefighters had to swarm the strip mall, Carroll says. The flames were tearing through an attic space shared by all the businesses.

"That's the worst kind of fire to battle because it can go all the way through the building really quickly and you have to go into every business to fight it," Carroll says. "Then it makes the roof unstable."

It took the firefighters a little more than an hour to put out the blaze. Inside a shop called Beverly Hills Puppies, they found dozens of dead dogs.

"Some of the guys rushed a few of them outside to see if they could save them, but it was just too late," Carroll says.

The shop's owner, Martin Leon, tells NBC 6 the puppies were French and English bulldogs worth about $2,000 a piece. They weren't insured. "We've been destroyed by the fire," he tells the station.

Fire investigators will spend the day trying to determine the cause of the blaze, Carroll says.

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