We own a 2013 Keystone Cougar 5th wheel model 331MKS. It is 11 moths old. Yesterday my wife and I left for a 3 day weekend camping by the Pacific Ocean in Washington State (about 2 1/2 hours from our home). When we got to the campground, we started setting up. The rig was only on 12V battery power. I had not yet connected to shore power. When I pushed the button to lower the landing gear, nothing happened. I tried the remote control, and nothing happened again. Thinking that the battery may have discharged, I went to get the power cord intending to plug it in. The cord was in the storage area in the front, under the hitch, where the battery is. When I opened the door, immediately SMOKE was billowing out. Then I saw the FLAME. It was coming from the circuit board above the battery.
I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I immediately got the fire extinguisher. After using it several times, the flame kept coming back. I called 911 for the fire department. While on the phone with 911, they asked about propane on board. The propane tanks are right next to the area burning. I immediately removed both of them. All I could think of was the possibility of an explosion. The dispatcher asked if there was anything else nearby that could burn. I said "yes, it is connected to my truck which is full of diesel." I could imagine everything going up in smoke. I turned off the battery, turned off all the circuit breakers, but the flame kept coming back after I kept using the fire extinguisher.
My wife went for the campground ranger. I finally emptied the fire extinguisher and the flame came back. I had nothing else to try, so I reached in and pulled the wires out which were all melted at and around the circuit board. The fire finally went out. By the time the fire department came, it was out.
The camp ranger told us that he had never seen anything like this before since it was not plugged into 110. Since the trip was ruined and since the warranty is good for a few more weeks, I drove the rig to the dealer (about 2 1/2 hours away). I called them in advance. Initially they sounded like they didn't believe me.
When I got to the dealership, 3 men came out to look. They said that they couldn't believe what they saw and that they had never seen this happen before. They took pictures. Our 5th wheel is now at the dealer. They said they will be talking to Keystone on Monday to see what next steps there are.
I am sharing all this:
1. To alert fellow 5th wheelers about this, particularly anyone with a 2013 Keystone Cougar 331MKS. This could have resulted in serious injury or even death. What would have happened if this fire started in the night? The bedroom is directly above the compartment that was burning. We could have been killed.
Why are you trying to single out Keystone and this particular model? This could have happened to ANY rv and you have no idea what caused it.
2. The dealer said this is the first time they have ever seen this. Maybe that is true (particularly for that particular dealership), but perhaps this is a bigger or pervasive problem. The staff at the dealership said that the circuit breaker or fuses between the battery and the circuit panel that burned had not done anything. Clearly that is a huge problem if the safety devices do not work when they should.
Huge problem? Once again...calm down you have no idea what caused it.
3. I think it is important that fellow RVer's inform others of such hazards. Perhaps Good Sam Club or other agency tracks this kind of serious problem. I did lodge a concern with Consumer Reports already. I don't know if there is a state or federal agency that should also be notified.
Notify them of what? Once again you have no clue what caused it. How do you know it's a serious problem?
4. I don't know what the resolution with Keystone and the dealership will be at this time. Perhaps there is some type of advocacy that is available to help us.
Why should Keystone be involved at all...sounds more like an insurance claim. The term advocacy makes me think you are looking to sue. Turn it in to your insurance and let themn do their job.
BOTTOM LINE: If this can happen to us, it could happen to anyone. We were fortunate that no one was hurt or worse. But, maybe the next family will not be so lucky.
You are right it could happen to anyone. Most people turn it in to their insurance.
I appreciate this opportunity to share this scary and worrisome situation with all of you.
Sorry for your situation, but the bottom line is at this point in time you know nothing...the fire could have been caused by any number of things. Contact your insurance company and let them sort it out. Thats what it's for.