MESA, Ariz. - Fire officials have revealed new information in connection with a massive fire that destroyed a storage facility in Mesa in December 2022.
Firefighters worked to put out the fire at a Public Storage near 8th Avenue and Country Club Drive on Dec. 10, and first responders were at the scene for hours to get it under control.
"Due to the large amount of fire and poor access due to all the locked units and potential collapse the decision was made to go defensive," officials said.
Dozens of firefighters from Mesa, Gilbert and Tempe responded. It's still unknown what caused the fire, and no injuries have been reported.
On Jan. 4, 2023, we learned that fire investigators believe the fire was likely human caused.
Nature of business created obstacles, fire officials said
Mesa Fire Capt. Josh Blum says the nature of the business created obstacles for crews because "you never know what’s inside there. It could be anything."
He added, "We had a heavy fire load, and with all the locked storage units in there, we had a difficult time making forward progress."
Crews attempted to douse the flames from below as those in cranes were hidden under an intense cloud of smoke.
Once the flames were out, investigators combed through the rubble and tried to piece a story together of what could've happened.
Kevin Krusemark, who’s lived in the area for about 25 years, says his heart goes out to all impacted.
"… it’s right around Christmastime. A lot of people are having a hard time as it is, and now they got to deal with this," he said.
"My son’s toys were all in there, and now I feel obligated that I replace that all for him," said Donteya McDaniels. A reminder, she says, of the impact this has on dozens of families.
Hope is scarce for Miranda Lukey, who also rented out a unit.
"It’s probably all gone," she said. While she has insurance, there were things inside that money can’t buy.
"My daughter is completely devastated. Her baby blanket is in there, a doll cradle my grandpa made," she said.
The fire was a particular blow to Jessica Moore.
"We see this big cloud of smoke going across the sky," Moore recounted. "I say, ‘Look, Killian,’ ‘cause he likes firefighters. ’Look, buddy. There’s smoke.' He’s like, ‘what’s burning, mommy?' I didn’t realize it was my hopes and dreams."
Moore is an artist, and she was storing her supplies, artwork, childhood memories, and even a quilt from her grandmother at the facility. She also taught her craft to others, but when she lost her business during the Pandemic, all those items went into the unit as well.
"There were hundreds of canvasses in there," said Moore. "Most of them were from teaching painting classes, but I put them in there because they were temperature controlled."
The fire destroyed all of Moore's belongings. She says the storage unit's insurance company is working with her to pay her for what was lost, but nothing can return her one-of-a-kind pieces, like a painting she created after she suffered a miscarriage.
"How am I going to take the time to rebuild all of that, and maybe start another business?" said Moore. "That was my future. That was my everything."
Questions remain amid investigation into fire
Moore said this could have been avoided: she had made several complaints to the storage company weeks before the fire.
"Started to smell like smoke, so I talked to the management," said Moore. "I talked to the other management, I talked to the other management and every single time, nothing was getting done. There were people. I started thinking that maybe people had been living in the units."
We have reached out to Public Storage for comment, but they have yet to respond.
A fire at Public Storage
More Arizona headlines
- Police: Three injured, one killed in south Phoenix shooting
- Man killed, woman hurt in shooting at north Phoenix Jack in the Box; suspect arrested
- Girlfriend shoots boyfriend during argument in Phoenix, leads to carjacking in Glendale: police