Fire damages dozens of storage units

- More than 100 storage units were damaged or destroyed when a fire ripped through a Public Storage facility Monday morning, leaving many renters wondering what, if anything, could be salvaged.

The fire broke out at the Hillsborough Avenue facility at about 6:30 a.m. and quickly spread from one unit to the next in Building E, creating a difficult situation for firefighters.

"Imagine ovens facing to the outside all the way around a building and then you have ovens facing each other on the inside," said Nacole Revette, a spokesperson for Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, adding crews mostly attacked the flames from above, tearing through the roof to get to them. "Trying to reach those units on the inside becomes very difficult."

The fire impacted at least 150 units, Ravette said, none of which had sprinklers because they were not required at a facility like this.

There was also no way for firefighters to know if there was anything dangerous in the units.

"When you're cutting into the door with an extensive amount of heat, not knowing what objects are on the other side, it can become very nerve-wracking for the firefighters going into fight," Revette said.

Several renters stopped by the facility, hoping their units were spared.

"Everything is up in the air right now. I'm a musician and a competitive spear fisherman, so all my scuba equipment is in there, all my music equipment is in there," said Scott Morris, who estimated the cost of all the belongings in storage to be more than $40,000. "[That's] a lot of money and you don't think of it until it goes up in flames or something."

Morris said he was required to have insurance, but it's unclear if all the renters were. FOX 13 contacted a district manager for Public Storage and the call was not immediately returned.

Revette said the fire caused about $800,000 in structural damage to the building.

Investigators have not determined what caused the fire.

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