MARATHON CITY (WAOW) -- A father-son road trip ended abruptly Saturday when the pair's RV went up in flames.
Marathon City fire officials say when they arrived on scene at County Highway B, both fuel tanks were burning. They believe the cause was electrical.
It cut short a family tradition.
"I've been going there 30 years in a row, now I'm not quite sure what's going to happen," said Lauri Penttinen of Thunder Bay, Ontario, the driver of the RV.
The 33-year-old camper took the Penttinens from Ontario to Oshkosh every summer.
"It's been in the north and south and east and west," Penttinen said.
But this trip ended in devastation.
"Smoke started coming from the air vents so I stopped," said Penttinen.
"[It was] green, kind of thick and billowy, so I started freaking out and I didn't grab my wallet or anything," said Lauri Penttinen's son, Hannes. "I just ran to the door."
They say about a minute later, the whole camper went up in flames.
"It was blowing flames out onto the grass," said Robert Fuller of Marathon City. "The grass is all burnt. It was like 25 feet out and then it would calm down, then it would break loose again. It was like two or three times, just a big robust flame."
The father-son pair say they didn't have time to save anything, including laptops, phones, passports and wallets.
Among the prized possessions was Hannes Penttinen's journal.
"When it hit me that this guy was in there, I lost it," he said. "Just lost it."
Against all odds, it was salvaged.
"I don't know how this survived when the entire bag went up," Hannes Penttinen said. "A lot of days in here that if I lost, that'd leave a bit of an empty space. At least it gives me a sense of peace to know that a few of the important entries are still there."
He says the fiery end to this trip will be the first thing he writes about next.
"Some things you don't want to forget," said Hannes Penttinen. "Some memories you can't let them get forgotten."
The father and son say they'll stay in Marathon City until they can get in touch with their family and their insurance company.
They don't yet know if they'll continue on to Oshkosh.