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Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Fire destroys boats, RVs at Palm Harbor storage facility

PALM HARBOR — An overnight storage facility fire destroyed about two dozen RVs, several boats, at least one classic car, an old-style 6X6 Army vehicle, and a 1989 Mako boat a man had just finished refurbishing, according to authorities.

“It was just a lot of people’s dreams,” Deputy Chief Robert Markford of Palm Harbor Fire Rescue said Wednesday. “In 10 minutes it went up in flames.”

No one was hurt, but the property loss is expected to be in the millions, Markford said. Most, but not all, of the vehicle and vessel owners had insurance, he said.

A cause has not been determined.

Palm Harbor firefighters had been dispatched to an oven fire at a house, with Tarpon Springs firefighters on their way to help, when a 911 call came at 12:39 a.m. Wednesday reporting what turned out to be a much bigger blaze at Florida West RV Storage, 4470 U.S. Alt 19, Markford said.

A Tarpon Springs fire truck that had been turned away from the oven fire was the first to arrive at the storage facility seven minutes later, said Rick Butcher, chief of Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue.

In the end, it took roughly four dozen firefighters from a half dozen fire departments in north Pinellas County — including some from Clearwater’s, Dunedin’s, East Lake’s and Safety Harbor’s — to bring the fire under control at the facility, which is just south of Klosterman Road, Markford said.

Markford described the building as a wall-less 300-by-100-foot structure about 20 feet tall that resembled a huge car port. There were 48 spaces in which renters could store their property.

There were multiple explosions, presumably from fuel tanks as the fire spread, and eventually the roof collapsed, he said.

While firefighters could not preserve the property inside the facility, they did manage to stop the fire from spreading to two other structures on either side of it, about 80 feet away, Butcher and Markford said.

Among those investigating the blaze are investigators from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshall’s Office.

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