TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Renters with Public Storage saw the aftermath of a Monday morning fire that impacted 150 units. Dozens of units were reduced to rubble.
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue crews responded to the facility around 6:30 a.m. Monday.
A HCFR spokesperson said the fire started in the back of the property in building E. Firefighters had to use a grappler to peel off the roof of the building to fight the blaze from up top.
Crews could not open all the storage doors at once because the influx of oxygen would set the fire in a rage, said the official. In addition, firefighters had to be extra cautious because of potential combustibles.
“It is our job to go in and fight the fire but at the same time don’t know what’s behind those doors, when we cut into those doors, there could be potential hazard for us,” Nacole Revette with Hillsborough County Fire Rescue said.
Renters express concern
For the second day in a row, renters flocked to the Public Storage in Town ‘n’ Country to check on their units.
“I didn’t hear about it until the next door neighbor came to my house and me told me that the unit my husband was renting was on fire,” Marta Rivera said.
Her husband’s belongings were destroyed in the flames.
Even though management won’t let renters on the property until Thursday, Rivera can see the devastation from her apartment. ”My husband had a lot of work equipment there. He lost everything,” she said.
People on the property – after hours
Some are wondering if the people they’ve seen sleeping around the units had anything to do with the flames. It’s a security concern renters want addressed.
Fire investigators said it could take weeks before they determine the official cause of the fire. Investigators are going through security cameras to see if anyone may have been lurking around the property at the time of the fire.
Renter Joyce Moore believes there may be more to this fire that we know right now. She said she’s run into people numerous times on the property after hours.
“My initial thought was I bet it was set from somebody carelessly smoking or something because I’ve seen on occasion over five years, at least three times, encountered homeless people living in there or in there,” Moore said. “Cause I’m thinking, 6 o’clock in the morning, what else is going on?”
Moore said there needs to be security overnight. Security guards for Public Storage have been on the property – at the front gate – since Tuesday morning.
News Channel 8’s calls to Public Storage corporate office have not been returned.
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