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Storage Unit Burns and Damages Several Others

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LAWTON, Okla_A storage unit was destroyed Saturday night, and several other were damaged after one of them suddenly caught fire.

Firefighters were called to the West Gore storage business just after 6 PM Saturday evening after employees smelled smoked and called 911. The renter of the unit told fire inspectors he had left the unit just hours before he was called and told it had been destroyed.

Assistant Fire Marshal Ray Brown is still investigating the fire, but he wanted to make it clear that just because a fire marshal is called out doesn't mean a crime has been committed. He says fire investigators are called to suspicious fires but also ones where there is extensive property damage. Which is the case in today's fire.

Even though the actual fire was isolated to just one unit, Lawton Assistant Fire Marshal Ray Brown suspects there will be a lot of claims filed due to smoke damage.

"Probably in this building alone there's 60 to 80 units. And smoke could've damaged several of them which gives us a potential for a large loss. When we come out it's not necessarily because anything illegal is going on, but we have the equipment to document what happened and possibly help issues down the road from this," Brown explained.

And while Brown hasn't determined the cause of the fire, employees say they believe a discarded cigarette left inside the unit by a tenant could be to blame, but Brown says that's still to be determined.

"At this time the cause is undetermined. I don't see anything that indicates any illegal activity, " said Brown.

Business owner Lon Parks has been in business for over 30 years and says he's never dealt with something like this.

"This is a first. We've had it since '78 so I guess you get what you get, " said Parks.

He says it may take some time to clean up and sort out, but is just glad no one was injured.

"It's okay. No one was hurt. The damage was contained, it's ok. We're happy about that."

The renter of the unit let us know he did not have insurance on his unit. He told us he was shocked and estimates he lost around $2,000 worth of property.

The fire is still under investigation. While no foul play is expected, Assistant Fire Marshal Brown says they'll continue to work the case and probably have the cause determined by early next week.

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