Burned Out RV Dealer: ‘We’ll Definitely Rebound’
By noon Tuesday (March 16), Mark Hollan, general manager of Harberson RV in Pasco, Fla., hadn’t slept since getting the phone call Monday night that the repair shop was ablaze, according to the Tampa Tribune.
He drove the few miles from his home and was startled when he saw the orange glow against the night.
“It was engulfed in flames,” he said of the warehouse-like structure that houses the busy RV repair shop. “I was just sick.”
The fire broke out about 9:30 p.m. Monday in the 10,000-square-foot repair and paint shop, causing several explosions. Fire crews from Pasco and Tarpon Springs fought for about three hours to get the blaze under control, and U.S. 19 was shut down near the shop.
No one was injured, and the cause of the fire had not been determined. There was about $3 million in damage, Pasco Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Randy Mortellaro reported.
Thousands of dollars worth of tools were lost, including compressors and paint machines. In the large service bays were the scorched remains of four motorhomes worth a total of $600,000 to $700,000, Hollan said. The rolling vacation homes were little more than frames and melted tires after the fire.
“I had a brand new one in there,” Hollan said, looking at the charred metal and soot-covered area.
Employees had been prepping the 34-foot 2009 Hurricane to be picked up by its owner on Tuesday.
“We were supposed to pick him up from the airport at 11 this morning,” said Hollan, who has managed Harberson for two decades. “I had to call him and tell him not to get on that plane.”
Two of the RVs had to be pulled out of the repair shop by wreckers sometime after 2 a.m., before the blaze was completely out, to help dissipate the heat in the building, Hollan said.
“There was smoke and everything coming out of them,” he said.
By Tuesday afternoon, the smoke was gone but the smell lingered.
Hollan’s four mechanics were trying to figure out how much in tools and equipment they lost. They pay for their own tools, he said, but Hollan has promised he will help replace them.
“I feel for my guys,” he said. “Not only do you worry about your business, you worry about your work family.”
The sales department was open Tuesday, but the shop was closed. Hollan thinks the metal repair shop, adjacent to Ardsley Lane, is a total loss, but he promises to have it up and running by today.
The mechanics will use smaller bays in the sales building.
“We’ll definitely rebound,” he said of the 37-year-old business. “I will just take it one step at a time. It will be a big inconvenience, but we’ll be fine.”