Fire's cause remains a mystery

Posted: Tuesday, June 04, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- Investigators may never why fire broke out in a storage building here Sunday, torching millions of dollars in property and forcing firefighters to dodge exploding bullets.

Fire Marshal Randy Waters said Tuesday the fire at Juneau Self-Storage was so hot it destroyed many of the clues he would normally look for to determine a fire's origin and cause.

Firefighters said 3,000 rounds of ammunition stored in one of the units and two propane cylinders in another helped fuel the blaze.

''There's about one-billionth of a chance we will be able to determine the exact point of origin and cause,'' Waters said. ''Things like burn patterns and areas left standing are just nonexistent.''

So far, arson is not suspected, Waters said.

Larry Spencer, general partner in Salmon Creek Partners, which owns the building, said he doesn't know who was storing ammunition there or why. The company leased storage space in the 14,000-square-foot building to about 150 renters.

He said leases don't allow renters to store anything explosive or flammable.

Juneau Police Capt. Tom Porter said although it may be unwise to do so, it is not illegal to store ammunition in a public facility, nor is it illegal to own the amount of ammunition that firefighters referred to.

Waters said he recovered numerous firearms and ammunition from the rubble. At least 10 percent of the units had weapons in them, he said.

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