A bus carrying the Fisher College baseball team caught fire Sunday in Maryland during a trip home to Boston after a weekend series in North Carolina, officials said.
The bus, which was carrying 32 players, three coaches, and two drivers, caught fire on Interstate 95 after a tire blew out, head coach Scott Dulin said.
The fire consumed the back half of the bus, smashed the windows, and burned a gaping hole through the roof, Dulin said. Everyone escaped unharmed, and once the White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company arrived, they stopped the fire in its tracks.
“The only thing going through my mind was ‘Alright, let’s make sure I have a headcount. I want to make sure my guys are safe and everyone that was on that bus is safe,’” Dulin said.
“But then once we got to a safe location and we could start seeing the flames, that is when it starts to hit like ‘Wow, we are lucky.’ It really puts things into perspective,” he added.
After the fire was put out, the fire company brought the stranded baseball team in groups of five or six to the company’s firehouse, where they were greeted with a “buffet line” of food and drinks, a movie room, and games to play until a new bus arrived about 4½ hours later, Dulin said.
The company even allowed the players to dress in full fire gear and practice knocking down doors, he said.
“They treated us like we’re family,” he said. “It was great.”
Robert Pedrick, the fire company’s chief of staff, said it “was a pleasure” meeting the team.
“The personnel that we called in to help out with [distributing food to the players] couldn’t say enough about how polite those gentlemen were,” Pedrick said.
The fire became an unlikely opportunity for the team to bond, said Fisher College President Steven Rich. After meeting with some of the players Tuesday at a news conference at the private Boston college, Rich said the players are in good spirits. But the college is prepared to offer support as needed.
“As far as mental health, I think they’re all good,” Rich said. “They really came together as a team to help each other out.”
Before the fire, the Fisher Falcons had just endured a disappointing weekend that resulted in a four-game losing streak, Rich said. But while the fire was unsettling, it helped shift the disappointment, Dulin said.
The fire “really put things in perspective,” Dulin said. “It’s not the end of the world. And at the end of the day, I think our team definitely got closer because everyone had to help all at once and had to be accountable for each other.”
The team will be traveling back to North Carolina on April 30, and Dulin said he plans to stop by the White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company to express his gratitude with “a nice care package.”
Katie Mogg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on twitter @j0urnalistkatie