July 10 2019

Driver’s Quick Action Get Passengers Off Bus Before it Goes Up in Flames

By: Rich Hosford



The quick actions of a bus driver likely prevented injuries after a coach bus caught on fire on the highway Wednesday afternoon. 


Burlington Fire Chief Steve Yetman said that a call came in at 12:47 p.m. of a bus fire at exit 32 on Route 128/I95. Because of the location both the Burlington and Lexington Fire Departments responded with Burlington sending Engine 1 and Lexington sending an engine, a ladder truck and an ambulance. Massport also sent a foam truck. 


Chief Yetman said the bus driver heard a tire explode and felt the bus shake. When he looked in the mirror he saw smoke and quickly pulled over to the side of the road. He was able to get all 26 passengers off the bus right before it went up in flames. 


“It was a close call,” Yetman said. “The guy did an excellent job.” 


WCVB reported the passengers were international students from Tufts University on their way to a field trip in Lowell



The fire was likely caused by the friction of the undercarriage on the highway after the tire failed, Yetman said. Putting out the flames was difficult because the bus had to be lifted by a tow truck provided by Winn Street Towing to give firefighters access to the flames. 


“They had to lift the bus so we could extinguish it,” Yetman said. 


During the incident police shut down the Route 3 offramp and traffic was significantly backed up. 


None of the passengers reported any injuries. They waited on the grass off the highway before the bus company, Local Motion, sent another bus.


Tufts University issued this statement regarding the incident: “We are grateful for the alert and calm response of the students, faculty, staff and the bus driver, which contributed to everyone emerging safely from the situation. After the incident was under control, the students returned to campus and enjoyed the remainder of their afternoon activities.” 



Photo Courtesy Chief Steve Yetman.


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