CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) - According to Capt. Scott Saunders with Chesapeake Fire Department, investigators have ruled the fire at Brentwood Self-Storage as undetermined with the cause accidental.
Captain Saunders says their investigation revealed the fire started in a unit where a tenant was using an extension cord and heat lamps to heat an aquarium filled with six snakes. There were towels in the vicinity of the heat lamps, but investigators are not able to pinpoint what actually started the fire.
Fire ripped through a self storage site in the Deep Creek Saturday evening.
Chesapeake fire crews responded to a fire at Brentwood Self-Storage, 1437 N. George Washington Highway, at 4:46 p.m. Firefighters arrived about six minutes later to find heavy smoke and flames coming from several storage units and called a second alarm. Medics took two firefighters to the hospital, one for evaluation, and the other for a twisted ankle. No civilians were injured.
The fire destroyed about 32 storage units before crews had the blaze under control around 5:50 p.m.
The blaze was hard to control for firefighters. Several fires started back up again once firefighters put them out. Captain Scott Saunders with the Chesapeake Fire Department says several units were packed to capacity making it difficult to reach flames deep inside the units.
"Some people fill them full of whatever they don't want to fit in their house. We can go in there and knock it down, but until we go inside in the fire we're not going to extinguish it," said Captain Saunders.
Some firefighters were even ordered to take breaks to protect themselves from the intense heat and smoke. After putting out the flames, firefighters had to remove all of the items in the storage units to make sure the fires were completely out.
Several people with anything inside or near the Brentwood Self Storage ran to the scene to check on their items.
"All my equipment, scaffolding, texture rigs, and all our drills everything is in one of the back buildings," said Mike Vanderberry, who helped paint some of the storage units.
Vanderberry's items were not damaged in the fire, but others were not as fortunate. Several people told WAVY.com they lost furniture, prized possessions, and even photos of deceased loved ones inside the burned units.
Monday morning, more people with belongings inside the storage center were stopping by to see what they could find. The Guerinot family drove from Rochester, N.Y. to Chesapeake to check on a relative's belongings.
James Guerinot said his aunt was storing everything she owned inside a unit that was destroyed in the fire. Guerinot is spending Christmas Eve in Chesapeake hoping they can return his aunt's family pictures to her.
Owner of the storage center, Catherine Swetnam, tells WAVY.com renters will be able to go through their belongings on Thursday. Swetnam said they've hired a restoration company to go through the rubble and figure out what can be salvaged.
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