Overnight fire destroys CubeSmart Self-storage and Racer’s Choice Inc. near Highway 155 and Loop 323

Published on Monday, 6 November 2017 18:11 - Written by LOUANNA CAMPBELL, lcampbell@tylerpaper.com

The owner of a race car parts and supply business that has been in business for more than 30 years is trying to find a new place to run his business after it was destroyed by a fast-moving, wind-driven fire.

Smith County Fire Marshal Connie McCoy-Wasson said in a news release that her office has not determined the cause of the Sunday night blaze that started in a nearby self-storage business. 

Residents who live at the CubeSmart Self Storage, 12324 Highway 155 South, called in the fire that appeared to have started where recreational vehicles and motor homes are stored, according to fire officials.

Investigators narrowed down the origin of the fire to two motor homes, although McCoy-Wasson said they have not pinpointed which one it started in. 

McCoy-Wasson said the roof collapsed and officials are not sure how many RVs were damaged or destroyed by the fire. 

She said high winds are blamed for spreading the fire to the nearby Racer’s Choice Inc., 12001 County Road 1114, a business that manufactures parts and safety equipment for race cars.

RCI owner Wayne Wilson stood with several employees Monday morning watching black smoke rise from the twisted metal of the smoldering building. He said when he received the call about 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, he and several employees responded to the scene and watched as the building was destroyed by flames.

By 9 a.m. Monday, Wilson said he was trying to secure another location to lease as he planned to rebuild the business of 32 years.

"We have about 30 employees we're trying to put back to work," Wilson said.  

The fire remained active but was under control Monday morning and Smith County fire officials remained on the scene to monitor the situation. Hazmat crews were called back to the scene about 3 p.m. to assist with some flammable liquids and members of the Noonday Fire Department remained on the scene Monday afternoon monitoring the situation because the fire was still burning.

Fire departments responded from Noonday, Flint/Gresham, Bullard, Tyler, Whitehouse, Dixie, Chapel Hill and Winona to assist in battling the blaze Sunday night.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office in the ongoing investigation.  Investigators have not determined a cost estimate of the fire.

Editor Allison Pollan contributed to this report