GRTC bus catches fire on Hull Street

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND (WWBT) - An incident this morning involving a GRTC bus is believed to be an accidental fire, caused by a mechanical problem. 5 people, including 4 passengers safely made it off the bus before the fire started.

The bus is a total loss. But, if it wasn't for the quick thinking of the driver, things could have been a whole lot worse.

A plume of smoke filled what remained of the charred GRTC bus this morning. Around 5:30, one of the passengers on the bus smelled smoke. That's when the driver pulled over, saw the smoke and quickly got all 4 passengers off, safely.

Then, moments later, things got much worse. "When they were all off of the bus that's when it turned into a small fire which of course, by the time the fire department arrived, it was in flames," says Kathy Shaw Clary with GRTC.

The fire department battled the bitter cold and flames, putting the fire out within 20 minutes. But the smoke lingered for some time.

A tragedy avoided by the driver, who did exactly what he was trained to do.

"Certainly, the bus drivers quick whit and quick thinking of pulling over was certainly admirable of them," says Lt. Shawn Jones with the Richmond Fire Department. "Saved some injuries."

In fact, no one was injured. The 4 passengers boarded another bus shortly after the fire.

But the remnants of the mess remained for hours. The hazmat team was called in to make sure none of the fuel spilled. Fortunately,that didn't happen.

The fire which started near the back of the bus, is believed to be accidental, caused by a mechanical problem.

The power lines above the bus-- proved to be another concern. "Some flames did go up to the power lines," adds Lt. Jones.

But we're told from Virginia Dominion Power and Comcast, service was not interrupted.

A normal bus ride turned dangerous. But, a tragedy avoided.

GRTC says it is going to cost a little more than $300,000 to replace the bus lost in the fire.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.