No one was hurt after a school charter bus caught fire Wednesday afternoon on the outskirts of Los Banos, leading to long delays in southbound lanes, California Highway Patrol officials said.
The charter bus was carrying between 50 and 55 students, faculty and chaperones heading from the Monterey Bay Aquarium to Hanford. The driver noticed smoke coming from the rear engine compartment of the bus shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday, CHP Los Banos Officer Dean Emehiser said.
Right when the driver pulled over off southbound Interstate 5 about half a mile south of Volta Road, flames started emerging from the engine compartment, Emehiser said.
“Everybody exited the vehicle prior to the fire spreading,” Emehiser said.
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But the fire engulfed the whole bus. The strong winds spread the fire across the southbound lanes into the center-divider vegetation.
Emehiser said both southbound lanes were shut down between 30 and 45 minutes as firefighters put out the flames. The right lane was closed an additional 60 to 90 minutes to remove the bus.
Vikaas Shanker: 209-826-3831, ext. 6562