Commuter bus goes up in flames in Seattle

Posted: 01/12/13 at 10:55 pm EST      Last Updated: 01/13/13 at 9:45 am EST

SEATTLE (NBC) -- A Sound Transit bus caught fire in the Interstate 5 express lanes in north Seattle Friday, creating a backup of at least 10 miles southbound and another backup northbound.

It happened around at N. 85th Street around 7 a.m., but created problems on the commute for more than two hours.

The express lanes were in the southbound direction at the time. All express lanes and some main line lanes in both directions were blocked. The off ramp from northbound I-5 to N. 85th Street was also blocked because of fire trucks.

Sound Transit suspects the brake line was frozen, causing the emergency brake to stay on during the commute. That caused the brakes to overheat and catch fire.

Passengers noticed that other drivers began honking to get the bus driver’s attention.

“We are like ‘those people are dumb drivers’. Then the bus driver pulled over and we thought that's a little strange,” said passenger Allison Schlappi.

Then, the smell of burning rubber.

“All of a sudden, we heard this loud boom happened in the back, then people were screaming, ‘get off,’” said Schlappi.

She said passengers had a hard time opening the escape hatch, but the driver remained calm to escort all the passengers off the bus safely, starting with a woman in a wheelchair.

“As soon as we got off the bus and got within a safe distance, the bus went up into flames in the rear,” said Schlappi.

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