STURBRIDGE, Mass. (CBSNewYork/AP) – No one was injured when a charter bus taking UConn students on an outing to Boston caught fire on a ramp to the Massachusetts Turnpike.
As CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported, some of the students are now blaming the bus driver for not stopping when mechanical issues arose.
UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz tells WVIT-TV in New Britain, Connecticut, that the bus was one of four headed for a harbor cruise organized by a student group.
Massachusetts State Police said the Saturday afternoon bus fire happened on the on-ramp from Interstate 84 onto Interstate 90 eastbound in Sturbridge, closing two lanes.
The students scrambled to the side of the road where several recorded images of the fire on their cell phones, including Faris Jadadic, who spoke to CBS2 from UConn’s campus.
“If we kept driving for another 30 seconds, we would have been in deep trouble,” he said.
Within minutes, flames engulfed the bus, leaving nothing but a charred shell.
About a half hour before the fire, students tell CBS2 the bus experienced brake troubles. But students say the bus driver ignored the mechanical issues, pulling over only once to survey the problem.
“Some girls on the back came up to him very concerned and said, ‘There’s smoke coming from the floor, is this a problem? Is this an issue? Should we pull over?’ And he kind of yelled at her in a way and said, ‘No, it’s fine, it’s the brakes,” Stephen Klink said.
“When we spoke to firefighters, they told us if you have any amount of smoke coming from under the bus, you should not continue whatsoever because it takes more than a few hours to cool off,” Jadadic said.
Reitz said there wasn’t a full bus available to take all the students on to Boston, so 52 students who had been on the burned bus were brought back to UConn on mini buses. She said they will get refunds for the cruise.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
CBS2 has been unable to contact the bus company.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)