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Paul Evert’s RV Country suffers multimillion-dollar loss from fire

Paul Evert's RV Country engulfed in flames

A 6,000-square foot warehouse at Paul Evert's RV Country in Fresno, California was engulfed in flames Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 as fire crews fought the blaze and staff scrambled to shuttle recreational vehicles away from the fire.
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A 6,000-square foot warehouse at Paul Evert's RV Country in Fresno, California was engulfed in flames Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 as fire crews fought the blaze and staff scrambled to shuttle recreational vehicles away from the fire.

A large fire broke out at Paul Evert’s RV Country in Fresno on Tuesday evening, causing an estimated multimillion-dollar loss.

Employees were working at the RV and trailer retailer off Highway 99 near the Central Avenue exit when passersby told them that they saw smoke and flames, said Cal Fire Fresno Capt. Jeremiah Wittwer.

The employees went to check on the flames and noticed they were on the backside of one of the RVs inside the building that eventually was engulfed in flames.

“They (employees) tried to extinguish the fire,” Wittwer said. “They did their best and got out and called 911.”

Inside the building, estimated to be 12,000 to be 15,000 square feet, was an auto shop and paint booth. Wittwer said that the building is unstable due to the fire damage and is full of hazardous materials such as oil drums and propane tanks.

“Most of the contents in that building are going to be a complete loss,” Wittwer said.

The cost of the damage is estimated to be millions of dollars, he added.

A forklift driver for the company, Coalton Marple, said the back shop was engulfed when he arrived. He said there was a large luxury motor home worth $1 million inside the building.

The 19-year-old said he’s worked at Paul Evert’s for almost two years and his brother is an RV detailer there. The fire made the new father to a baby girl nervous that he might be out of a job.

Security guard Jeremy Dudley, arriving for his 7 p.m. shift, simply said: “There goes the shop.”

Battling the fire was no easy feat, Wittwer said, as limited truck access to the scene and little access to water supply played a role in the difficulty of containing the blaze.

Throughout the night, he said the fire crews would be “peeling back layers of the building” to pinpoint the exact cause of the fire.

Fresno Fire, Fresno County Fire, Selma Fire and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. all responded to the blaze.

As crews fought the blaze, Paul Evert’s staff used forklifts to pull RVs away from the fire.

Traffic on southbound 99 slowed as motorists watched the blaze. Many shouted, whooped and hollered from their cars as they passed.

There were no reported injuries, Wittwer said.

Jessica Johnson: 559-441-6051, @iamjesslj

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