Firefighters arrived at A-Plus Storage at 82nd and University just after 4 a.m. Wednesday, and the last fire truck didn't leave until after 11 a.m. The storage facility has just fewer than 1,000 units and, according to the fire marshal, about 35 of those were affected with severe fire damage.
The fire department called out 40 to 50 firefighters for the two alarm blaze. Often storage units hold clothes or furniture, which can sustain a fire, so that made the fire difficult to put out. Another challenge firefighters faced was the metal walls which separate each unit. The fire could get through quickly, but firefighters couldn't, so they had to break into each individual unit.
"I said (it was) manpower intensive because in entering those doors you have to physically take an ax and beat the door to cut into it and get water onto the fire. So it was very physical for them so we had to rotate crews through into rehab, get them water, get them rested, and rotate them back in until we got a good handle on it," said Lubbock Fire Chief Rhea Cooper.
As for the cause of the fire, apparently someone was moving things into their storage unit Tuesday night and smoking at the same time. A cigarette butt landed on a couch, smoldered for a while, and later began the rather large fire.
The owner of A-Plus Self Storage says most of his tenants don't need to worry. "Right now with the fire we've actually contacted or are still contacting those people that actually got some of their stuff damaged. It's about 35 units. If we haven't contacted you, you don't have to worry - your stuff is good, and it's mainly a few of the units in the 400s," said owner Michael Postar.
A major concern of people whose belongings are damaged is what insurance covers. "We don't have insurance, but it really makes me concerned," said Jim Gose.
After he heard about the fire at A-Plus Storage facility, Gose went to check on his unit. "We smelled a lot of smoke, but there was no damage in our storage unit," Gose said. He's lucky because his belongings weren't insured.
A-Plus has insurance for their property, but not for their tenants' personal belongings that are stored there. "Majority of the time tenants are insured when they store their property through homeowners policies or individual renters insurance, things like that," said District Manager, Dave Shideler.
What happens if you aren't insured? "Sounds to me like you might be out of luck if you don't have insurance covering your personal property," said Insurance Agent Jason Grisham.
Grisham says most homeowners and renters policies do cover property stored in storage facilities, but you should make sure when you write your policy because that's not always the case. "In the environment today, company's homeowner policies differ a little bit. So you would have to look at the details of the policy," said Grisham.
If you aren't already insured, a renter's policy is probably your cheapest option. It can be $10 to $20 a month, but it will help protect you if something like a fire happens. If you do have insurance, it's a good idea to keep a list of everything you have stored away and document it through pictures. That way, if something like a fire happens you have everything you need to make an insurance claim.
A-Plus Storage is locked for the night on Wednesday for security reasons.