A press conference regarding the reward was held Aug. 2 at the San Marcos Activity Center, where San Marcos Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner thanked local law enforcement, city officials and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for their work and cooperation.
Kistner also said authorities were able to raise the reward for the investigation due, in part, to the help of the San Marcos business community, along with two families of victims of the fire.
“We stand here to announce that this is a collaborative effort,” Kistner said. “This is not only ATF, the city of San Marcos—our business community and families—but this is an effort put forth between everybody to bring the reward to where it is at.”
Five individuals: Dru Estes, 20; Haley Frizzell, 19; James Miranda, 23; Belinda Moats, 21; and David Ortiz, 21 lost their lives in the July 20 fire that left more than 200 people homeless and at least seven people injured.
About three months after the fire, authorities said they believed it was set intentionally, and offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to those who were responsible.
At the Aug. 2 press conference, Kistner said family members of the victims, including those of Frizzell and Ortiz, had donated $10,000 to raise the reward. Additionally, $10,000 was donated by the Chamber of Commerce, along with $40,000 from an anonymous donor.
The ATF and the city of San Marcos also each donated $25,000.
Samantha Brown, the vice president of communications at the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce, said members of the organization came together to provide the $10,000 donation.
“A part of being a strong business community has to do with your relationships with people who live there,” Brown said.
Mike Weddell, an assistant special agent in charge at the Houston field division of the ATF, also spoke at the press conference, adding that he hopes the increased reward will help find answers.
“At this time, we’re one phone call away from having this investigation solved and moved forward,” Weddell said.