Two adults and 11 children from the Anchor Church youth group in Houston, Texas, are thanking God after they narrowly evacuated a van they were traveling in to attend summer camp moments before it erupted in flames on I-610 at Wayside on Tuesday.
“Faith has to play a part in it. We believed and we prayed over those kids,” Jordin Williams, a mother of two of the youth camp goers, told KHOU 11.
The campers who boarded the van at Deer Park High School were on their way to Kerrville, Texas, when the fire started just minutes after they began their journey. The driver of the van was the church’s youth pastor and his mother who is a former school bus driver.
The church did not immediately respond to a call for comment from The Christian Post but Williams told KHOU that some church members had noticed a strange smell in the van shortly before it was engulfed by flames, but they did not realize the smell was coming from the van.
"He said it smells like barbecue or something and like, something must be on fire, they didn't think it was their van," she recalled about what could have been a tragic start to the summer for the church and her family.
Thankfully, everyone was able to escape from the event unhurt and the campers were eventually able to travel safely to their destination.
Anchor Church was previously known as Sandbox Church and described themselves as “a community of market place professionals, both married and single, with a desire to develop a deep and authentic faith, build rock-solid families and impact the community around us.”
The church was founded by Brent Phillips who serves as founder and lead pastor and has six locations in Texas, according to Phillips’ website.
According to the Houston Fire Department, the cause of the fire in the van was an electrical issue, but experts warn summer travelers that because more people travel during this period, drivers are usually more prone to accidents and other challenges on the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offers a number of safety tips to drivers on how to improve safety during the summer through vehicle checks on things like tires, the coolant system, oil fluid level, batteries, lights, or “any damage or conditions that may need attention.”
“The summertime months have proven to be especially deadly for children when it comes to hot car deaths. Heatstroke in vehicles often occurs when a child is left unattended in a parked vehicle or manages to get into an unattended vehicle,” officials warn. “Never leave children alone in the car—not even for a few minutes. Vehicles heat up quickly. Even if the outside temperature is in the 70s and the windows are cracked, the temperature in a vehicle can rapidly reach deadly levels. A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult’s.”