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'It’s all gone': Dozens left devastated, seeking answers after fire destroys U-Haul storage facility in Sarnia, Ont.

Dozens of people in Sarnia lost troves of valuable belongings last week when a fire burned through a storage facility, destroying nearly 50 units.

For Peter Misko, the loss is deeply personal.

“I ended up losing my son back in 2012…and anything I had in that storage locker of him, his personal items, any photos, it’s all gone," he told CTV News London.

Misko is one of dozens of tenants who lost their belongings that were stored inside a U-Haul facility on Confederation Street in Sarnia when a fire broke out on Sept. 13.

Fire officials said all five stations responded to the large structure fire at the facility just before 4 p.m., and they remained on scene for 24 hours, managing to contain the blaze to Building B, which housed a total of 49 units.

Chris Mann, a father of three, rented one of the storage lockers, and said his family is devastated.

“We lost everything, everything our kids owned, everything we owned, all of our family's keepsakes, our memorabilia, it’s all gone, a lot of things are irreplaceable, but currently, if we decide to go get a new place, we can't even put anything inside,” he said.

In a statement to CTV News London, U-Haul said, “U-Haul customers are always encouraged to carry Safestor damage protection when renting a self-storage locker. Safestor is low-cost storage insurance that covers loss or damage of stored possessions against events such as fire, wind, burglary, flooding, water leaks and other major perils.”

Damage is estimated at $2-million after a fire broke out at a U-Haul storage facility in Sarnia, Ont. on Sept. 13, 2023. (Source: Sarnia Fire Rescue/X)

But the company said only 33 of their renters opted for this type of insurance — 17 tenants did not. The company is now urging them to contact their homeowners insurance about coverage and claim options.

Mann had opted for Safestor insurance through U-Haul which will cover up to $5,000.

But Misko said that wasn't an option when he got his storage units.

“I just assumed that there would be a certain minimal level of care that would be provided if I am storing stuff on their property, and obviously I’m seeing that's not the case,” he said.

Misko and Mann, along with others impacted by the fire, are now considering legal action against U-Haul.

"Nobody's going to end up back on top of this, we all lost a lot of things that were extremely important to us that can't be replaced. For the things that can be replaced, hopefully U-Haul can stand up and do what's right here,” said Mann.

At this time, fire officials have deemed the blaze accidental in nature and damage is estimated at $2-million.

"It's devastating because I was told I can’t even go there to take photos of anything that remained, and now my understanding is that whole unit is gone — there is nothing left,” said Misko.

U-Haul said nothing was salvageable, the building was a complete loss and is being demolished. Top Stories

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