MILLCREEK — Twenty-two units of a storage complex — and all of the contents inside — were destroyed in a two-alarm fire Friday.
About 12:50 a.m., a man was sharpening lawn mower blades in one of the middle sheds of GK Enterprise Self Store, 4017 S. Main, said Unified fire spokesman Steve Ball. Some of the sparks, however, ignited the fumes coming from a can, or several cans, of gasoline nearby.
The man was able to escape without injury and called 911. But when emergency crews arrived, the fire had already spread to all 22 units adjacent to each other.
"It spread rapidly," Ball said. "It was an older storage complex. All (the units) were about the size of a one-car garage. There were no fire breaks. The fire went up and spread across the roof."
When firefighters arrived, the flames were already shooting from the tops of each of the 22 units. They had to cut through all the steel doors to gain access to the fire, Ball said.
Firefighters positioned themselves between those burning units and 20 more in a row that were just across a driveway. None of those units were damaged.
Val Smith rented two storage sheds.
"I had everything I own in there basically," he said while looking over his burned out shed. "I had a safe in there, sewing machines from when I was self-employed. … It hasn't quite hit me yet."
In addition, Smith said he had a knife collection worth an estimated $10,000 that burned in the fire.
He scolded the person who started the blaze.
"His disregard for safety has cost us all our storage units now," Smith said
One firefighter suffered a minor back injury after falling while trying to lay fire hose.
It was not immediately known when the storage units would be re-opened to the public so the tenants of the 22 units could assess the damage to their possessions.