UPDATE 2: Country star's tour bus catches fire in Chattanooga
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Jerrod Niemann, his friends, father and uncle are all safe after his tour bus caught fire late Tuesday night on the 700 block of Broad Street.
After performing for Heart Strings for Hope, a benefit for St. Jude Children's Hospital, in downtown Chattanooga, the group was about to leave town when the incident happened.
"We're in there and Jon [Stone] comes over and says 'Your bus is on fire." Niemann recounts. "And I'm like 'Dude, your gun's shot. Our bus is not on fire.' I thought it was the heater. So I went to the thermostat and it says "Auto Cool". So Lee [Brice] get's off the bus and is like "Dude, that's black smoke. Your bus is on fire"
Niemann and his group then exited the bus to see the whole back side go ablaze. Soon after, an explosion occurred.
"So we get everyone off - my family and everyone," Niemann said, "and pretty soon we hear this 'Boom!' and we think it's the fuel line, but we look and the whole front windshield was just blown out.
Luckily everyone was clear of the bus when the explosion happened and all instruments had been retrieved. Niemann attributes his safety to, not luck, but God.
"This is where I have to say, to anyone that does not believe in God: If we were on the road driving we would've never smelt it The smell would've been going down the road. It would've lit up. I would've been in the back room. My own father - I don't care if I die, but my own father and uncle, this one night on the bus, just, no. So we're so, so thankful."
In addition to their miraculous safety, however, there is an even more bizarre twist to the story. Just six weeks before, Niemann's friend Lee Brice's (who was with Niemann during this incident) bus caught fire. Several months before that, another good friend of theirs (who was supposed to be with Niemann also) had his bus catch fire as well.
"When they first said there was a fire I thought 'There's no way with all these other fires that mine is catching fire too. Too close to home you know?'"
In the end though, looking at his partially-burned bus, Niemann said it is all worth it:
"All I can say is 100% that I'm so thankful to, one, be here tonight, and two, to leave here tonight in one piece. And at the end of the day, no matter what happens, it's the kids that matter. We get to chase our dreams every day and those little kids, who have so much hope, may not. And that's honestly why we're here."
Chattanooga firefighters are working to determine what caused the fire on the country star's bus.