EVANSVILLE, Ind (WEHT) – Look, but don’t touch. That is what Stor-N’-Lock renter William Barning says he was told after flames from a tipped over candle tore through his unit on January 30.
“We were not allowed to come back out to the property at all,” said Barning. “Everything’s gone.”
The footage still leaves people who rented the units in disbelief. Some renters came the day of the fire, and were not allowed to see their unit.
“Right in front of us, there’s unburnt Polaroids from people’s families,” said renter Michael Yates. “You can reach out and touch stuff that we could tell were our belongings, and they said ‘if you touch it you’re going to jail.'”
A crane demolished what was left of the fire, and put debris into dumpsters. In hours after the fire, the director of operations sent an email to renters notifying them about what happened and that they could see if anything was salvageable. However, the owner says they had to backtrack after talking with insurance and lawyers.
“There isn’t anything left here and the insurance company deemed that there was nothing recoverable from this site,” said Stor-N’-Lock owner Wayne Kinney.
Kinney says they were required to demolish the units for safety.
“At the request of the insurance company: secure the area as quickly as we can,” said Kinney. “And that’s why we had to put it into dumpsters and a company was hired by the insurance company to come take it to a landfill.”
Kinney said the insurance company told them not to let anyone in.
“They were as rude as you could be to us,” said Barning, “our stuff was laying on the ground right in front of us and we could not reach down and pick up nothing… they said [they’d] call the cops.”
Kinney told Eyewitness News some of his employees felt uncomfortable the day of the fire as renters yelled and cursed in their faces.
“The insurance company said we cannot let people in here to go through whatever is there, and as you might imagine, it is all pushed up in a pile .. so we don’t know what material, if any, is yours and what is somebody else’s,” said Kinney.
Meanwhile, the front gate remains locked. Firefighters had to cut the locks on 20 units that had no visible damage while battling the blaze. Kinney says firefighters knew someone was living there without their permission, and was trying to get them out.
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