College Park, Md. -- A 40-foot recreational vehicle used by a New Zealand family of four while visiting the United States was destroyed by fire on Oct. 1.
Firefighters from the College Park/Beltsville area were alerted around 9:30 a.m. to a RV fire at the Cherry Hill Park, 9800 Cherry Hill Road, College Park. The site is the closest RV park and campground to Washington, D.C. and houses hundreds of visitors daily.
The Wittenberg family was inside the trailer when they noticed a fire in the area of the dashboard on the driver's side of the vehicle. Attempts to extinguish the fire in the 1990 Allegro RV engine compartment were unsuccessful by the family and bystanders using fire extinguishers and a garden hose.
The family of four, including a father, mother, teen male and younger female, escaped safely. The fire burned quickly and intensely as radiant heat extended to the trailer located about 15-20 feet away. Damage to the exposure trailer was limited due to plastic molding melting.
The first hose line placed in service by firefighters was directed at the exposure trailer to cool it down and then extinguish the blazing RV. The cause of the fire appears to be "mechanical" and a preliminary fire loss to the vehicle and contents are estimated at $20,000.
The family is attempting to make contact with the New Zealand Embassy to seek assistance and is temporarily being sheltered at the Cherry Hill Park complex.