HOLIDAY — Mark Hollan looked over the charred ruins Tuesday morning at Harberson RV, where a late night fire Monday destroyed the service garage and four recreational vehicles parked inside. The blaze had turned everything to scraps and ash.
Authorities estimated the damage between $3.5 million to $5 million.
"It happens, but you just don't think it's going to happen to you," Hollan said.
As the manager of the RV sales and repair business at 2112 U.S. 19, Hollan got the call Monday night from emergency responders saying the building was on fire. He rushed out to the scene to unlock the gates.
"It's sickening. Your heart drops," Hollan said. "It's just unbelievable."
The fire broke out about 9:30 p.m. and raged for more than four hours before firefighters from Pasco County and Tarpon Springs snuffed it out.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, but the blaze was fueled by the combustible items in the garage: propane tanks, cans of paint, a large drum of paint thinner.
"My understanding is that it had several small explosions inside," said Pasco County emergency manager Paul Latham.
A stretch of U.S. 19 was closed from 9:47 p.m. Monday until 2:16 a.m. Tuesday as firefighters ran hoses across the highway to fight the flames. The last smouldering areas were put out by 5:24 a.m., Pasco Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Mike Ciccarello said.
The 5,000-square-foot garage had a paint and restoration shop in the back. Fire officials met Tuesday with the Department of Environmental Protection to discuss potential chemical threats, Latham said.
The fire did not spread from the building, although three homes along Ardsley Lane to the east were evacuated as a precaution.
Three of the RVs were owned by local customers who had requested repairs. A fourth was being prepped for a buyer who planned to fly in from Texas to pick it up.
Hollan said he met Tuesday with the nine employees who work in the service department — now an ashen heap — to assure them they will still have work.
"Nobody's going to lose their job," Hollan said.