Mother and daughters escape minivan fire on girls' trip: 'I have never been as terrified'

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Jessica Ariks said her minivan caught on fire during a girls' trip.  (Jessica Ariks)

A Tennessee mother and her daughters are safe after a girls' trip turned into a traumatic experience when their minivan caught fire. 

Jessica Ariks wrote on Facebook that the incident happened on October 22. 

She said her 2012 Honda Odyssey EX-L erupted in flames and the gas tank eventually exploded after she had just put $40 worth of gas in her vehicle.

Ariks said she and her girls were heading to Cades Cove to spend the day together and take some autumn photos. 

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"We had the windows down, singing along to our favorite songs, and we were having a fantastic day," she wrote on Facebook. 

Ariks said as she was driving, she heard a "weird popping noise."

She looked up and saw a tiny plume of white smoke coming from the hood of her van. The instrument panel on her dashboard also started to light up. 

That was when black smoke started to appear, and bystanders took notice. Ariks said only six minutes had passed since she first heard the popping noise and when the car was on fire. 

"A man on the sidewalk screamed ‘Honey, your car is on fire. Get out! GET OUT NOW!!’ and I just remember yelling at the girls to get out of the car," she continued. "I somehow managed to lose both of my shoes as I was getting out. The girls got out with me."

Four men nearby helped to grab as many belongings as they can from the vehicle. Some women took her daughters and moved them to safe distance and comfort them.  

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"I stood on the sidewalk and watched my vehicle become completely engulfed in flames," Ariks said. "Yes, it’s just a car. But we loved my van. It was perfect for us and we absolutely loved it. My heart broke watching it burn. The only thing in this world that I owned, in my own name."

"I have never been as terrified and absolutely shaken as I was yesterday [October 22]," she continued. 

Ariks said this is the third time in 15 months she had lost a vehicle. 

"My girls and I are all safe and sound tonight. And that’s what matters," she added. "What breaks my heart is that I can’t replace the couple of sentimental items I kept in the console that belonged to my Mom."

Ariks also thanked the strangers who assisted her during and after the fire, including first responders. 

She said she's now will file an insurance claim. 

The company tells FOX Television Stations they can't make an official comment right now until they know more about what caused the fire. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.