Smoke shop's motorhome destroyed by fire on I-5

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

Updated: September 17, 2012, 10:02 PM

 

A motor home used for mobile marketing by a Vancouver-based smoke shop went up in flames Sunday evening on Interstate 5 in Olympia.

Bobby Saberi, a partner at Mary Jane’s House of Glass, and three others were heading back to Vancouver after tailgating at the weekend’s University of Washington and Seattle Seahawk football games in Seattle.

The 1986 Winnebago’s power steering failed, so Saberi pulled off to the side of the interstate near exit 107 at 6:38 p.m., just as flames were starting to come out of the grille.

When the Olympia Fire Department arrived, the entire Winnebago was engulfed in flames.

“I had no idea how quickly those RV’s could catch fire,” Saberi said.

The fire, which had sparked in the engine, also started a small brush fire along the highway, said Deputy Fire Chief Greg Wright. One lane of traffic was blocked for about an hour while a crew of 10 worked to extinguish both fires.

“We’re fortunate. Everything’s been going so, so good. This was just a minor little setback,” Saberi said.

The Winnebago was donated just three months ago by a friend who had it in his family for around 20 years. About $10,000 went into the motor home for repairs, interior remodeling and painting. It was decorated with the company logo, all of the Pacific-12 Conference’s college logos and Clark College’s logo.

The business sells hand-blown glass pipes, bubblers and candles.

Saberi said the retail glass and smoke shop is trying to create a bigger presence at Pacific Northwest college campuses and extend its scholarship program. Mary Jane’s sponsored two $1,000 scholarships this year at Clark College — one for the best essay on continued criminalization of cannabis and the other for the best essay on legalization of marijuana.

They business has also been using the Winnebago to donate canned food brought in by customers who then get a 10 percent discount on products. Mary Jane’s has donated about 5,000 pounds of food to the Clark County Food Bank since December; 2,000 more pounds are being stored at eight Mary Jane’s locations.

The family-owned business opened 12 years ago on East Mill Plain Boulevard and now has four locations in Vancouver, and one each in Washougal, Portland, Longview and Tacoma; another is opening in Federal Way next week.

“We’re going to lick our wounds and see what happens,” Saberi said. “If another Winnebago falls into our lap that won’t catch on fire, then we might start from square one again.”