EVERETT, Wash. — Police and fire officials swarmed a large storage complex on Wednesday looking for homeless squatters.
In total, authorities said they will inspect 325 units at The Storehouse Mini Storage.
The inspections occurred two months after a large fire swept through a storage unit at the facility.
Authorities later said the blaze was likely caused by someone living inside the unit.
“If you shut the storage units’ rollup doors, they’re not proper for exiting. It’s a very unsafe situation for (the homeless),” said Everett Fire Marshall Kurtis Brown.
Facing a rising number of squatting reports, authorities got a court warrant to scour the property for anyone else who was not supposed to be living there.
“In a mini-storage unit, none of them are supposed to be occupied,” Brown told KIRO 7. “There’s no way to tell which units are occupied and not.”
As a result, every storage unit on the property will eventually be searched, whether renters like Mike Khidirian want it or not.
“What will keep them from doing it again next week? Or doing it to any of these businesses or households in this neighborhood?” Khidirian wondered.
Khidirian admitted The Storehouse Mini Storage does have a homeless issue.
He told KIRO 7 his problem with the search is that he and everyone else were being lumped into an isolated issue.
“It feels like (authorities) are gonna blanket the whole building to violate our privacy rights,” he said.
As part of a court warrant, authorities have 10 days to look for any evidence of people living inside the storage units.
It includes furniture that may be situated into mini living rooms.
“Having furniture in a storage facility is what you’re going to find a lot of time — household belongings and all that,” Khidirian commented.
By midafternoon, fire officials had searched more than 50 units, with no evidence of squatting turning up.
Even then, hundreds of other units remain. The search is expected to last several more days.
Authorities told KIRO 7 they are conducting a codes violation search rather than a criminal search.
As a result, they insisted nobody will face criminal charges.
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