A coach bus carrying Tufts University students burst into flames on Route 128 north on the border of Burlington and Lexington, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, causing traffic delays and temporarily shutting down a ramp to Route 3 north.
The fire occurred shortly before 1 p.m. Fire officials said the passengers were safely evacuated from the bus. No injuries were reported.
Video posted on Twitter by a passing motorist showed huge clouds of smoke billowing from the front of the vehicle as firefighters hosed down the flames. Aerial footage from NBC10 Boston's Sky Ranger helicopter showed the flames had been extinguished by 1:30 p.m., with substantial damage throughout the vehicle.
Officials from Tufts said 20 international students were on a field trip to Lowell. The bus company said upwards of 40 people in all were on the bus at the time.
"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," the school said in a statement.
The bus is operated by Local Motion, a Boston-based transportation company serving Boston, New England and beyond.
The company issued a statement Wednesday praising the "experience and quick action" of its driver in ensuring that all of the passengers were unharmed. They said the driver has "a spotless record and thousands of hours behind the wheel at our company and other regional bus travel providers."
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Bruce Barrows, director and co-owner of Local Motion, said the fire started in a wheel well of the bus. The driver immediately pulled over to assess the situation. When he saw smoke coming from the vehicle, he ordered all of the passengers off the vehicle.
The bus company said it has launched its own internal investigation to identify the cause of the incident. They said they are cooperating fully with police and other investigators.
"We apologize for any delays this situation may have caused for those on the roadways today, and are grateful to police, fire and rescue services for their quick response," Barrows said.