Update: Homeless man’s space heater to blame for storage unit fire, one injured

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OKLAHOMA CITY - One man was taken to the hospital with second-degree burns after a fire at a storage unit in the metro.

Just after 2 a.m. on Wednesday,  fire crews responded Sentry Self Storage, located on the 4700 block of N. Meridian Ave.

When they arrived, the fire had already burned through six upstairs units and two downstairs units.

Fire officials said a homeless man, who rented a unit downstairs, was staying inside it.

They say a space heater he was using to keep warm sparked the blaze.

"We know the fire started from a space heater that a homeless person was using to stay warm in a downstairs storage unit," said Battalion Chief Steve Lumry with the Oklahoma City Fire Department.

In fact, the cold caused problems for firefighters on the scene as well.

Fire crews say they were forced to rotate shifts to keep firefighters warm and keep the water from freezing on the ground.

In all, 13 units were damaged.

Authorities estimate the fire caused $30,000 in damage.

Nearby units have water, smoke and fire damage, including unit seven, where John Smalley has been renting space for 30 years.

"It was a lot from the fact that when I cleaned out my parents’ house, I put stuff in there and I just kept sticking stuff in and taking stuff out when I needed it," said Smalley.

Despite his belongings being damaged, he can't stop thinking about the homeless man living on the property, who is now in the hospital.

"The sadness is that there's someone that has to look at this place as home. That's far worse than possessions," said Smalley.

Battalion Chief Steve Lumry wants to remind Oklahomans to be cautions when using any type of heating source.

"People need to be extremely careful with space heaters, don't overload outlets, don't have combustibles too close to your heating unit," said Lumry.

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