RIP Xtevan's bus
Short version of the story: I'm safe at home in Austin. Neither my travel companions nor I were physically injured but while I was on my way to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada for Burning Man, my Bluebird bus pulling a trailer burned to the ground fully loaded. The fire report cites the axle bearing seizing on the rented trailer as the cause of the fire.
Long version, We were just north of Needles, CA on Hwy 95N, in the upper Sonoran desert about an hour and half south of Las Vegas. Was really enjoying the new driver's seat and matching copilot seat set up (which I didn't take a single picture of ) when I noticed the flames from the side of the trailer in the side mirror. I stopped the bus, got off and found that the art car & generators' fuel tanks which were on the trailer had caught on fire. I ran back into the bus for tools and got Deborah & John off of the bus. I got back to rear of the bus to find the flames were now blowing over the hitch and onto the back of the bus. The flames were too big to get close enough to get the trailer disconnected now, and everything on trailer and bus burned (our stuff and the things we were hauling for other people who had flown there) :'( .
The 911 call didn't go smoothly because our call was picked up by Nevada and they were concerned that we were still in California...that's a whole separate story, but by the time any fire dept help got there it was way too late. People traveling along the highway who stopped were as supportive as they could be (unlike the California Highway Patrol officer!), especially a man named Jake from Boulder City, who eventually drove us into Las Vegas to spend the night.
Some young marines saw John's tatoos (he got out with only his pants, boots, and cell phone & wallet in the pockets), gifted us clean Tshirts and a clean hoodie. Allen came to our rescue long distance by arranging for a hotel room and flights back to Austin the next day. (BTW, it is possible to fly without an ID, as my wallet was on the bus with my last purchases from the Kingman AZ Home Depot. I was talking with a another skoolie converter and was distracted after giving him the bus tour. The TSA has procedures for that, you just have to allow a lot of extra time to be processed as if you might be a terrorist. At least at the Las Vegas airport, they were very sympathetic and helpful.)
So we didn't make it to Burning Man--we had our own personal "burn." I knew we were on an adventure, but this was certainly far beyond anything I could have imagined. The fire happened Monday around 5:45 p.m Pacific Time. We were back in Austin at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Literally only moments before we saw the fire, we had been enjoying the spectacular view and talking about what we were feeling grateful for. I think all of us have a pretty good perspective on what's important--we're grateful to have walked away, and we do understand the relative unimportance of material possessions, but it is still very difficult to watch so many of your things go up in flames. The emotional and financial hit is pretty hard for all of us. I think we're doing OK, but the traumatic stress response continues, including in some ways that are surprising me (particularly physiologically).
I was really bummed to leave the art car remains, I spent two days welding up the twelve foot tall guitar neck/head & don't have picture that does it justice(was waiting to get the gas jets in).
For now, we're taking care of related business tasks, prioritizing as best we can. I got to the DMV Wednesday for a replacement drivers license, have ordered new credit/debit cards, & am now working the insurance hoops.