Fire at Alpine Meadows campground ruled accidental
Tuesday's fire at the Alpine Meadows Campground in Stevens Township, which destroyed a camper and a mobile home and also damaged another camper, has been ruled accidental, the LeRaysville-Pike fire chief said.
"There's nothing suspicious" about the cause of the fire, said John Keegan, chief of the LeRaysville-Pike Volunteer Fire Company.
The cause of the fire has not been determined, Keegan said Wednesday night.
The fire destroyed a camper in which Derek and Tiffany Brown and their two young children lived, he said.
Brown works in the gas industry, as does Gary Matthews of Ulysses, who was living in a separate camper that had some of its siding melted from the fire, he said.
"People can live in newer campers in cold weather," the fire chief said.
In addition, a mobile home that is owned by Eva Gertenitch of Spring City was destroyed in the fire, the fire chief said. The mobile home was vacant at the time, as Gertenitch only used it in the summer, Keegan said.
The fire started in the front end of the Browns' camper, he said. The Brown family was not home at the time, as they were having supper at another location, the fire chief said.
The wind caused the fire to spread from the Browns' camper to a shed owned by Gertenitch, and the fire then spread to her mobile home, Keegan said.
The fire was reported by a female named Kim Johnson, who was in Matthews' camper, he said.
"It was a busy night" for the several local fire companies that responded to the fire, Keegan said.
Firefighters were summoned to the scene at 6:10 p.m. and at approximately 6:20 p.m. the first fire trucks arrived, the fire chief said.
Due to snow that had fallen, the roads were slippery, which slowed the arriving fire trucks a little, the fire chief said.
There was a rekindling of the fire at 4 a.m. Wednesday at the Gertenitch trailer, which caused further damage to the structure, the fire chief said.
The Herrickville and LeRaysville fire companies responded to the rekindling, the fire chief said.
"The wind was blowing so hard that probably some hot embers (rekindled the fire)," he said.
However, the damage to Gertenitch's mobile home was so extensive that it could not have been salvaged, even if the fire had not rekindled, the fire chief said.
"It was pretty much gutted inside," he said.
Keegan said he was not surprised that the fire rekindled. "It was dark and cold and windy and the visibility was limited (when firefighters fought the original fire). You try to get everything out, but something was missed," the fire chief said.
Keegan said he did not know where the Browns are staying. "The last I knew, the Red Cross was working with them," he said.
The campground is located off Herrickville Road, near Stevensville.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.