A Shortline Bus returning to Ithaca from New York City burst into flames Sunday morning in Brooktondale, N.Y., eight miles outside Ithaca, after the driver accidentally drove up a hill on a flat tire.
Shortline Bus Safety Manager Donna Young said that N.Y. State Department of Transportation is still investigating the fire, but that “the driver is fine and so are all 15 passengers.”
Lindsay Myron ’11, a passenger on the bus and a former Sun Photography Editor, said that when the bus was coming up the hill on Route 399, the bus driver pulled over to examine the flat tire.
“I think we had had it for a while, but the bus driver didn’t notice,” Myron said. He did not tell the passengers what was happening when he examined the wheel, she added.
Fifteeen minutes later, the driver returned and borrowed Myron’s phone to call a supervisor. He then ordered everyone to evacuate the bus.
After they exited, the passengers saw that the rear right wheel had caught on fire. The bus driver tried to use the fire extinguisher to quell the flames, but soon emptied it and resorted to throwing snow on the wheel, Myron said.
It was at this point that the driver instructed one of the passengers who was standing on the side of the road to call 911.
“The fire department took a while to get to where we were,” Myron said. “Though they tried to put the fire out, by that point it had moved to the other back wheel as well and started to move forward.”
As the fire spread to the front of the bus, it incinerated everything and passengers lost all belongings left on board, Myron said.
Shortly after the fire department extinguished the flames, another Shortline bus arrived to take the passengers to Ithaca.
“I don’t really know what to say,” Myron said. “In retrospect, I should have been more traumatized than I already was.”
Original Author: Liz Camuti