Firefighters search for cause of storage facility fire


For so many people, storage units are like garages. It is a place for stuff that's wanted, but not at this moment needed.

"Up until the baby was coming, the spare bedroom was a bike shop, surf shop, catch all. Everyone has one," said Jeff Fuqua.

Fuqua is one of hundreds of customers at Bay Area Self Storage on Monterey Road in San Jose.

The on-site manager reported a fire at the facility at 7 p.m. on Sunday night. Thick smoke and locks on every unit made it difficult to fight.

"We have dangers at every fire. This one was dangerous in particular because there were hallways that turned left and right with zero visibility," said San Jose Fire Capt. Chuck Rangel.

The fire prompted a voluntary shelter-in-place for nearby residents that was only lifted Monday morning.

"Yes, we smelled the smoke and we closed all the windows because the smell and the smoke was very strong," said resident and customer Rosa Cuellar.

When the smoke cleared, firefighters say nearly 70 units will have suffered some kind of damage. One by one, people showed up to learn the fate of their belongings. Ironically, Beverly Knoch is storing the only things spared in a recent house fire.

"If I would have lost this, I would have lost everything, but were fine, we're fine," said Knoch.

Cuellar is not so good. Her son might have lost everything he needs to earn a living.

"My son is a musician so we have got the speakers, guitars, everything. No insurance," said Cuellar.

The news was better for Scott Graham. The fire stopped just short of the unit his water ski club uses to store valuable equipment.

"We do take the Boys and Girls Clubs out for ski days to learn to ski, so everybody is going to be real happy that all of our stuff was saved," said Graham.

The owner of the business is dealing with his own emotions. Instead of celebrating his mother's 70th birthday, the family is helping customers deal with unexpected loss.

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