It was to be a men and boy’s hunting trip. I don’t know what we were in town from out bush station for – supplies, no doubt – but we spent a few days with Jim and Gloria and their family. Of course our children always enjoyed time with theirs.

We decided to have an “outing” (men and boys, of course!). And we figured to make it a camping/hunting experience out near the Serengeti Game Park. Jim’s Volkswagen Kombi, like this one, was packed and ready for the trip.

Morning came early (doesn’t it always?!?) and off we went. The boys – Roger, Douglas and Bob as well as my son Mark – were in the back seats; Jim and I up front. We made good time and were well on our way by about 8 a.m.

Besides whatever supplies we needed, our rifles were in their cases in the back along with ammunition in Army surplus ammo containers. If you remember the interior of a Kombi’s configuration, there was a shelf-like place above the gas tank and the engine which was in the rear and it was on this shelf where the rifles and ammo were packed, along with other “soft” things to protect them from bouncing.

Well, to interrupt our pleasant thoughts as we were cruising along on the dirt road, we heard a plaintive cry from the back which said, “there is smoke coming out of the back of the car!”. Now, on a dirt road there is always a plume of dust but this time it was darker than the dust of the surrounding country would be. FIRE!

Quickly we stopped. The boys all piled out and Jim and I made our way to the back of the Kombi. We opened the engine door and flames spurted out. The petrol (gas) line, which came from the tank which was just above the engine, had snapped and fuel was spurting out. Of course, adding to the fire!

And, just above those flames was the gas tank. On the shelf inside, were our rifles and ammo. Frantically we dove into the car to get them out before they exploded.

The fire was another thing. We had no extinguisher and where we stopped there wasn’t enough loose sand to scoop up to try and smother the flames. But, off to the side of the road we saw a pit where road crews had dug for dirt/gravel to put on the road. And, the pit had some water in it. We had no idea how deep the water was but together we pushed the Kombi into the pit. I guess the splash or a following “tidal wave” put out the fire.

With all this commotion, a crowd from the surrounding villages came to see what was going on. With the help of the men, we pushed the Kombi up out of the water, pitched a tent and waited!

This was a main road and busses traveled on it. Beings it was morning, they all were going the wrong direction (away from town) and we waited for one going back to town so that I could go and get my truck and come back to get the Kombi. After an hour or so, one came along going back to town and I, and several of the boys, got on. The rest of the crew stayed with Jim to await my return with the truck.

I finally made it back. With the help of the village men and boys who had hung around, we were able to get it up on the back of the truck. The road was quite a bit higher than the side and, with planks I had brought, we were able to push it up onto the truck bed. It was secured and we were ready to drive back to town – after thanks (and a bit of “soap”) we were off. It looks like Roger had to hang on in the back. Of course our camping/hunting trip was now only “historical intentions”. Oh, well, another day.

But even in all this one could see our Lord’s Hand. That ammunition could have started exploding while we all were still in the vehicle. The gas tank could have burst from the heat. A group of men, friends of another man who was a Christian, stayed around to help – even though the whole experience took almost all day. We had left town early in the morning right after breakfast; we arrived back to town in time for supper! And all this happened “down the road”, only about 80 miles from town.

P.S. Some time later, when that Kombi was well worn out and furlough was impending, we made it disappear. Jim had finally parked it at the edge of his back yard, behind the storage shed. A deep pit was dug just beside it and together we tipped the vehicle over into the pit. The dirt was piled back in, tamped down and without a “decent burial” the Kombi was now lost to sight. But not forgotten!

2 thoughts on “Fire!

  1. Nice when someone involved with me/us in the incident replies. How are you and Jan doing these days?

  2. So many memories on this one. After the fire, I learned how to rebuild a VW engine. My first truck driving job was with that truck.

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