Renter after storage fire in Valdese: 'Everything I own is in that building'

VALDESE, N.C. — Firefighters from eight different departments were battling a large fire at a storage facility in Burke County Wednesday morning.

Fire crews arrived at Bingham Storage, along Highway 70, around 10:30 a.m. and saw flames shooting out of several units.

A total of 46 storage units were in danger, according to fire officials.

The owner, Bruce Bingham, told Channel 9 that every unit in the section that was on fire was being rented at the time. He was concerned because many of those renting the units do not have insurance on their items.

Firefighters told Channel 9 that the biggest problem they were facing was trying to gain access inside the storage building because they have to cut through the metal doors.

They were also concerned about what was in the units.

"For example, some of the things we found are LP tanks, and found an old model car in one, so it is really toxic," Valdese Fire Chief Charlie Watts said.

There are no fire walls between units.

Renters gathered in the nearby parking lot as the fire spread through the building.

"Everything I own is in that building, because I'm sick and I had to move out of my place and move in with my parents," renter Sherri Hawkins said. "My mother's death certificate and my father's death certificate. And what I can't see is probably going to be smoke damage."

It was not clear how the fire started, but Bingham said there was some work being done on the parking lot shortly before the fire was reported.

The owner said firefighters are reviewing the surveillance video from the business in hopes of pinpointing the cause. Fire investigators said they believe the fire is accidental.

The owner said before the fire that work was being done to reseal the parking lot, where equipment malfunctioned setting off a spark that could have started the fire.

"Just keep all of the people that's got storage in your prayers," owner Bruce Bingham said. "I feel for them."

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