SAN ANTONIO – The reward for information on a deadly fire last year at the Iconic Village Apartments in San Marcos has been increased from $10,000 to $110,000, officials said Friday at a news conference.
Officials announced the reward for information leading to the identification and/or arrest of those responsible for the fire during a joint news conference with the city of San Marcos and the Houston Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Local and federal investigators are still searching for the arsonist who sparked the July 20, 2018, fire that killed five people and injured seven others, one critically.
"We have never stopped on this investigation, and we will never stop," said San Marcos Fire Marshal Kelly Kistner, adding that investigators would not forget the victims and their families.
Dru Estes, 20, of San Antonio; Haley Frizzell, 19, of San Angelo; David Ortiz, 21, of Pasadena; James Miranda, 23, of Mount Pleasant; and Belina Moats, 21, of Big Wells, died as a result of the fire.
ATF offered up the original $10,000 reward in November after investigators determined the fire was set intentionally. The new, dramatically increased sum, which comes just over a year after the fire's anniversary, includes $40,000 from an anonymous donor, $25,000 from ATF, $25,000 from the city of San Marcos, $10,000 from the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce and its members and $10,000 from victims' families.
"I can say that between the city of San Marcos and the ATF, that when we looked to increase the reward upon ourselves, being unsolicited, other entities at that time decided to put in, and we're much appreciative," said ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Mike Woodell.
Investigators hope the increased reward will entice someone to finally come forward and give them the tip they need.
"I just want to say, at this time, we are one phone call away from having this investigation solved or moved forward," Woodell said.
Officials haven't released many specifics about the case. Kistner said withholding the information helps investigators get the most accurate tips.
The case had its challenges, too, from investigators only confirming the fire was set intentionally months afterward to investigating in a college town from which many people may have already left.
Speaking with reporters after the news conference, Kistner said he wanted news of the reward to spread, saying, "We may have people of information across the country."
The fire marshal also called on the arsonist to turn him -- or herself in, calling them "100% a coward."
"If you did this, it's time to grow up," Kistner said. "It's time to take responsibility and come forward. If you don't want to come to us, there's people who are gonna take us to you, and we're gonna get you one way or the other."
Four of the victims killed were either students or former students at Texas State University. Officials said about 200 people were also displaced as a result of the fire.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact ATF at 1-800-ATF-TIPS or by email at ATFTips@atf.gov. Tips can also be submitted anonymously via the ReportIt app.