Squatters causing fire danger in vacant structures

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) Just before midnight November 25, the Reno Fire Department responded to a fire in a storage unit on Kuenzli Street. Investigators say the fire was caused by squatters starting a warming or cooking fire.

"Some transient people made their way into the unit and started a warming fire, which got away and caused damage to four other units," Patrick Mooneyhan, RFD Fire Prevention Captain, says.

Several other units were damaged by the flames but no homes or other businesses nearby were impacted.

Mooneyhan says with the cold weather, more of these types of fires are happening.

"Since September alone we've had 14 homeless encampment fires that involve transient people setting warming fires; of those, five have been involved in structures that were vacant," he says.

Most building codes state that living in or using storage units as residences is illegal.

Shannon Leonesio is the director of EZ Storage and says in its contract it clearly states "the unit shall only be used for the purpose of storage."

"There's no heating, cooling, anything inside so it's not a place to live," Leonesio says.