Fast-moving fire destroys 50 storage units in Pacheco

PACHECO, Calif. (KGO) -- Dark black smoke was seen billowing out of the back of Pacheco Mini Storage, on Pacheco Boulevard as fire raced through 50 units in a matter of minutes.

Storage manager, Kelly Van Schaik said, "We've had some customers calling in seeing if their stuff is affected. We had one woman come in and hers is completely gone. She is devastated."

The fire started as a brush fire behind the storage center near a homeless encampment. People living there have been questioned by investigators.

The wind-driven fire jumped from near Highway 4 to the storage units and then across the freeway toward 680 south. The smoke from the fast-moving blaze could be seen in parts of Solano County.

Witnesses called it a wall of flames.

Gerard Van Schaik said, "All across the side was all smoke everywhere. It was a pretty good fire. I know it was hot and they asked me to clear the area and I had to leave that's all I could do."

His wife, Kelly said, "As tall as those palm trees there, smoke billowing, flames coming up. It was pretty scary when we first saw it."

This blaze was a hard one to fight. There was the heat, downed power lines, and the self-storage center itself to contend with.

Battalion Chief Dominic Ciotola said, "When they get in there because it's hard to get inside of them there's so much material inside of them, they spread fast, thin walls, and they have a tendency to spread real quickly so we got to get on it fast."

Once the fire was out, personal items like furniture, heirlooms, and even old letters could be seen through the smoky haze.
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