‘No intent of arson’ in Bradenton CubeSmart storage facility blaze, fire marshal says

·2 min read
Screenshot via FDOT

Despite rumors circulating on social media, Bradenton Fire Department officials say there is no sign of arson in a storage unit fire that caused around $1 million of damage.

The Bradenton Police Department, Bradenton Fire Department and the State Fire Marshal responded to a fire that damaged between 20 and 30 units Sunday at the 6915 Manatee Ave. W. CubeSmart self-storage facility. One person was injured and hospitalized with respiratory injuries.

A homeless man, whose identity has not been revealed to the public, was found at the scene of the fire where he was renting a storage unit, according to officials.

While some social media posts claimed the man set the fire on purpose, City of Bradenton Fire Marshal Chris Melser said he’s confident that this was an accident, not a case of arson.

“I’m about 99% sure on what caused the fire. We found everything we needed: the ignition, the source, everything was present and made it easy to find out what happened,” Melser said. “And there was no intent of arson that we found.”

The man was suspected of suffering internal respiratory burns and was taken to Blake Medical Center for treatment, but Melser said he anticipated him having a short hospital stint. Officials were able to interview him at the hospital and found no indication of criminal activity.

Arson not suspected in Bradenton CubeSmart fire

Traffic cameras in the area captured smoke billowing from the storage facility fire. Police blocked part of the road for about three hours Sunday afternoon while firefighters battled the blaze.

Manatee County resident Adam Lewis, who lives at the Cypress Winds Apartments across the street from where the fire occurred, said he heard “a loud explosion” so he walked outside to investigate.

“As we were walking outside to see what was going on, we heard three or four more smaller explosions. Then fire and EMS showed up,” Lewis said. “But an entire row of units were charred from what I saw.”

Lewis said he saw firefighters use a saw to get past the security gates and into some of the storage units, which Melser confirmed in an interview with the Bradenton Herald.

The State Fire Marshal was called to the scene due to both the high dollar value amount of the damage as well as the injury sustained at the fire. Either one can trigger the State Fire Marshal to be called, according to Melser.