When San Diego reggae outfit Through the Roots's tour bus went up in flames on March 2, there were still two band members on board: drummer Taylor Boatwright and bassist Budda Foster.
"I was behind the wheel," lead singer Evan Hawkins told SoundDiego on Tuesday. "The bus started smoking heavily, and we pulled over. There was a bunch of fluid coming out of the bottom. And then there was a fire. It ignited the fluid on the ground and lit up the front end of the bus."
Before the flames broke out, guitarist Scott Goldberg, who often posts social media for the band, caught the smoking bus on his cell phone. But then the fire started, and yells of "Get out of there!" and "It's on fire!" brought Boatwright and Foster out of the bus seconds before thick smoke enveloped the engine compartment.
"At that point, I was just stressing out that our equipment was going to burn," Hawkins said by phone from just outside of San Antonio. "It happened so quickly. I wanted to go back in and grab stuff, but it wasn't safe. We were just in disbelief."
A good samaritan pulled over to offer a fire extinguisher to the band, but it wasn’t enough. By the time the fire department arrived some 20 minutes later, the bus had burned -- along with the band’s personal effects, some instruments and laptops, including all the work they had done on a new album.
"I was thinking about it today," Hawkins said. "We actually have to restart from scratch."
Fortunately, the trailor that housed the majority of the band's instruments was spared, and Through the Roots caught a ride to their show in North Carolina the next day with another band that was in the area. After that, it was a U-Haul and rental car until Pensacola, Florida, where a band member’s dad loaned the guys an SUV to get them back to California, where they’ll start to rebuild what they lost -- after they finish the tour they’re still on.
“We’re always stoked to play shows because we love what we do, and we love our fans, and our fans are the ones that are helping," Hawkins said.
There’s been an overwhelming amount of support from those fans, Hawkins added. One of them, a childhood friend of the lead singer’s, started a GoFundMe account to raise money to replace what the band lost. So far, more than $15,000 has been pledged. Go HERE to make a contribution.
Hannah Lott-Schwartz, a San Diego native, moved back to the area after working the magazine-publishing scene in Boston. Now she’s straight trolling SD for all the music she missed while away. Want to help? Hit her up with just about anything at all over on Twitter, where -- though not always work-appropriate -- she means well.