BELLEVUE, Wash. (AP) — The quick thinking of a Sound Transit bus driver ensured that none of the 30 passengers were injured when the vehicle caught fire early Wednesday while heading north on Interstate 405, officials said.
"We're just happy that everybody got off the bus safely and the operator did what he was trained to do to keep this from being a worse situation," said Bruce Gray, a spokesman for Sound Transit.
The Route 566 bus was traveling from Renton to Bellevue about 6:40 a.m. when the driver heard a "pop" from the back of the bus, Gray said. He pulled over and went back to check it out and saw flames, Gray said. He told the passengers to get off the bus and called for help.
"The rear of the bus went up in flames," Gray said.
The commuters lined up along the side of the highway while the bus continued to burn, sending bright flames into the dark, pre-dawn sky. 'Everything was engulfed," Gray said.
A replacement bus picked up the passengers within about 30 minutes and took them to the Bellevue Transit Center, he said.
The bus is operated by Pierce Transit, and it was being towed back to the agency's station where an investigation will be done, he said.
The Washington Department of Transportation said all lanes were clear by 9:40 a.m.
Information from: KIRO-TV, htthttp://www.kirotv.com/index.html