Returning to his hometown of Fox Island this summer, Skylar Brown’s plans centered around music and ministry.
Brown, 23, traveled from Lakeside, Montana back to the island with his friends — Tim Johnson, 24, Adam Cullen, 23, and Elijah Waldrop, 19 — as part of an intern group from Youth With a Mission to spend six months at the Fox Island Alliance Church and introduce their band, Minus Tim, to the Seattle music scene.
However, a wrench was thrown into their plans on Sunday morning when a call from Gig Harbor Fire and Medic One alerted Brown that their newly purchased van had caught fire while parked at the church.
Firefighters received a call about a vehicle fire at 5:40 a.m. Sunday morning at the parking lot of Fox Island Alliance Church, said Battalion Chief Todd Meyer.
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We have no idea why anybody would burn our van down. We’re feeling kinda confused, because this kind of this doesn’t happen in Gig Harbor often.
“Units arrived to find a fully involved 1999 Dodge Ram van,” Meyer said.
The van and a nearby tree that had also caught fire were both extinguished by firefighters.
The cause of the fire is undetermined at this time, but it is under investigation as suspicious by both the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department’s arson unit and the Pierce County Fire Marshal’s office, Meyer said.
Suspicions were aroused because of the extensive damage to the van, the uniformity of the burn pattern and from items found left near the van. The van had been left parked and locked at the church since July 7 without any contact from Brown or his fellow interns.
Brown said he and his friends are at a loss to explain why something like this would happen since they’ve only received support from the community since their return.
“We have no idea why anybody would burn our van down,” he said. “We’re feeling kinda confused, because this kind of this doesn’t happen in Gig Harbor often.”
Everyone I’ve encountered has been drop jawed and sort of not understanding. You want to host somebody and do really well…and then they come and their van gets set on fire. It’s just so odd.
Susan Bouterse, executive pastor of Fox Island Alliance Church
Susan Bouterse, executive pastor of Fox Island Alliance Church, is also confused about the incident since vandalism and threats are not a common occurrence at the church.
“Everyone I’ve encountered has been drop-jawed and sort of not understanding,” she said. “You want to host somebody and do really well … and then they come and their van gets set on fire. It’s just so odd.”
Brown and his group came to lead the church’s worship ministry for the next six months, while also performing their own music around the area.
“They’re doing several things with us. First and foremost is leading us in worship,” Bouterse said. “It’s really a fun partnership. We just are really excited about it.”
Even with the loss of of the band’s van, which was being used to haul their equipment and instruments, the members’ spirits haven’t been dampened nor their energy flagged.
“They are the most flexible and adaptable and teachable young adults that I’ve met,” Bouterse said. “They have a lot of faith (and) they’re not panicking … they know it’s going to work out.”
The ultimate goal is to raise enough money to replace their lost van, Brown said, and until then they have some personal and borrowed vehicles to help get them and their equipment around.
“We’ve got a good response. We’re on good terms with everyone here,” Brown said. “Most people are just sorry that it happened.”
Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to contact the Pierce County Fire Marshal’s office at 253-798-7179.
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Anyone with information concerning this incident is asked to contact the Pierce County Fire Marshal’s office at 253-798-7179