Early morning fire destroys storage building

An early morning fire on Sunday destroyed one of 16 storage buildings at East End Mini Storage, a storage and business complex on East End Road near Redden Marine. Building O was 95-percent destroyed, said Homer Fire Chief Bob Painter.

Neighbors did not notice the fire until about 4:10 a.m. Aug. 4, when they heard explosions coming from the building. Ten Homer Volunteer Fire Department firefighters responded with five units. Kachemak Emergency Services also provided mutual aid.

When firefighters arrived, the entire building was in flames, Painter said. Spray paint cans, ammunition, propane tanks and other highly flammable or explosive materials were blowing off when firefighters arrived. No one was injured, Painter said. Painter got a copy of the rental agreement from the owner, Doug Fraiman, and the agreement said that storage unit renters are not supposed to store volatile and explosive material. A few units were not destroyed but had smoke and water damage.

The fire destroyed winter and outdoor gear, mementoes and other personal possessions.

“They were some very upset people who showed up who were going through their effects,” Painter said. “There were significant emotional losses.”

The fire threatened but did not damage nearby buildings. The building was constructed of wood framing and oriented-strand board with concrete columns to support garage doors. Unlike homes or businesses, there was not sheetrock protection between units. The building did meet state fire codes at the time of its construction, Painter said.

The cause and origin of the fire remains under investigation. Except for outdoor lighting, the building had no electrical wiring or heating. No one was believed to be living in the units, another violation of the rental agreement.

“It’s really tough,” Painter said of determining the fire’s cause. We haven’t ruled out anything yet.”

According to Kenai Peninsula Borough tax records, the value of improvements at the entire complex is $1.9 million, but Painter said he did not know the exact value of the destroyed building. The building was insured and it was up to the storage unit renters to provide their own insurance for belongings.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.