By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
TOWN OF FLORIDA -- Alpin Haus is offering a $1,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest in connection with the May 1 RV fire at the company's Route 5S location.
Montgomery County Undersheriff Jeffery T. Smith on Thursday confirmed the fire is considered "suspicious."
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the sheriff's office by calling 853-5500.
"We were told, verbally, there were no definite natural causes for the fire," Smith said, adding the department is waiting to receive the official documented report from state fire investigators.
When asked if there are any suspects or persons of interest, Smith said the department is following up on leads.
Alpin Haus President Andy Heck said Thursday the company is offering up the reward and distributing photos of the blaze to see if they spark conversation.
"Anything we can do to stir it up to help the sheriffs with their investigation," Heck said. "It's a small community, so someone might say the wrong thing to the wrong person."
At roughly 1:30 a.m. May 1, Fort Hunter Fire Department was dispatched to the scene for a report of a camper fire. Upon arrival, firefighters found an RV engulfed in flames.
It reportedly took 3.5 hours for firefighters from seven agencies to clear the scene. The blaze, worsened by the RVs exploding propane tanks, eventually destroyed the RV and a nearby camper and trailer, and two RVs and two campers were damaged by smoke and water, said Fort Hunter Fire Chief Tim Haegi.
Montgomery County Emergency Management Director Adam Schwabrow said fire investigators narrowed the area of origin to the center of an RV.
Sheriff's Investigator Roberto Gracia said the RV was a 2004 model that had an estimated value of $150,000. He said it was privately-owned, and had been left at the dealership for service that was completed in February.
The Route 5S facility was constructed in 2002, and opened in 2003. Heck said there are roughly 300 RVs in the yard.
According to the company's website, Alpin Haus is one of America's largest RV dealers, named top five RV dealer by RV Business Magazine.