British Pathfinders Escape Bus Fire After Oshkosh Camporee
The Adventist group, which prayed at the start of the trip, credit God for sparing their lives.
, British Union Conference, with additional reporting by Adventist Review staff
A group of Adventist children from Britain narrowly escaped a fire that destroyed their bus as they left the International Pathfinder Camporee in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, last weekend.
A tire blew out on the bus as it traveled on a Wisconsin highway for Atlanta, Georgia, on Aug. 17. The driver pulled over to the side of the highway to take a closer look, but then a fire quickly erupted.
"We heard a loud bang, saw smoke, and next we knew we were exiting our coach, which was beginning to burn,” said Joshua Roberts, a passenger and a Pathfinder leader. “Thankfully everyone exited safely, and the fire department arrived shortly after."
He praised God that no one was injured and noted that the Pathfinders had prayed for safe travels before leaving Oshkosh.
“Before commencing our journey we prayed for traveling mercies,” he said. “We thank God for life, and we remember that He protects His children.”
The fire shut down the highway for about four hours and made headlines on local television and in newspapers. The Pathfinders, from London’s Holloway Adventist Church, were shown on television thanking God for His protection.
Two young people were briefly hospitalized as a precaution, said the group’s leader, Ian Johnson.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many Pathfinders were on the bus.
The travelers lost some luggage, and one laptop was damaged in the fire. But all passports were secure, and the Pathfinders were in good spirits.
The Pathfinders said they were grateful not just to the firefighters but also to other Pathfinder groups that have stepped in to help.
"Another club from the Chicago state saw our coach go up in flames and stopped to help transport us and the remaining luggage that survived," Joshua said.
When the group arrived in Atlanta, local Pathfinder clubs rallied around to help wash their smoky clothes and donate new bags.
The Holloway Pathfinders had spent the previous five days at the Oshkosh camporee, an event organized every five years for tens of thousands of Adventist children aged 10 to 15 from around the world. The club members were on their way to Atlanta for the second leg of their American tour.
The group has been provided with another bus and continued on its journey.
The children return to Britain on Sunday, Aug. 24.
British Union Conference website: “Holloway Pathfinder Club Coach Fire in USA”
NBC News affiliate TMJ4-TV: “Bus Fire Disrupts Trip for Children Visiting from London” (with video)