A massive, wind-driven fire burned down a pair of buildings at AAA Rent-A-Space on W. 4th Street, but damage to the rest of the facility was limited thanks to a quick response from Owensboro Fire Department and nearly three dozen of their firefighters.
Colter Tate, battalion chief, said OFD received a report just after noon Thursday of a structure fire at 4th Street and Ewing Road.
“Upon the arrival of our first apparatus, they encountered heavy smoke and fire conditions in one building, which did extend into another building,” he said. “The buildings are approximately 300×50-foot, so decently large-sized storage buildings.”
Tate said the alarm was upgraded quickly to call a few additional apparatus to the scene. They had approximately 32 personnel on scene fighting the fire. As of 2:30 p.m. they were in the overhaul stage, trying to douse the remaining hotspots.
“It initially took a while for us to get it under control,” Tate said. “It was a wind-driven fire. We had the other buildings that were relatively close to the primary fire building. It did extend to one, so we were contending with two similar size buildings on fire at the same time.”
The storage facility manager said he was at the office but didn’t know anything was on fire until he saw fire trucks arriving on scene. He was unable to provide further comment.
Looking at the facility from W. 4th Street, the second storage building was the one most affected. The third building also was severely burned.
Tate said they were able save approximately 25% of the initial building and 50% of the other, but it was undetermined how much damage the remaining contents would have due to smoke and water.
Some of the people whose storage space burned down were on scene.
Jack Gish said while much of the personal property lost can be replaced, there were sentimental items that were invaluable.
Gish and his fiance were out running errands when they saw the smoke, and they knew it was in the area of the storage facility. He said initially it was tough to see how bad the situation was because of the smoke, but as it died down the buildings were obviously burning.
“We’ve got loved ones who passed away, their belongings are in there,” he said. “Those important memories are now burnt up. It’s pretty devastating.”
Kim Griffin, who works at Murphy Excavating on the lot directly east of the storage facility, said originally someone ran into their building and said it was Murphy’s building on fire. The office staff quickly went outside, where they noticed the fire was actually at the storage facility next door. Griffin said she didn’t believe any of Murphy’s property was damaged.
“We have a lot of semis and stuff back here so we were just trying to get everything moved off the lot so OFD could work on the fire,” she said.
No injuries were reported, according to Tate. The Owensboro Police Department and AMR ambulance also responded to the scene.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by OFD fire marshals and OPD.