Bus carrying Stanford track team catches fire

A bus carrying members of the Stanford track team caught fire on I-5 in Seattle on Friday.  (Photo: KIRO7.com)
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A bus carrying members of the Stanford track team caught fire on I-5 in Seattle on Friday. (Photo: KIRO7.com)

A bus carrying members of the Stanford University track team caught fire on I-5 in Seattle on Friday.

As the bus approached downtown Seattle on northbound I-5 near the Seneca Street exit at 2:20 p.m., people on board heard something blow below the bus.

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"All of the sudden we heard a pop. It kind of sounded like a gunshot. (The driver) pulled to the side of the road and noticed smoke billowing," said Stanford sophomore Julia Heymach. "And someone noticed at first, and we were just, like, didn't know what to do, and after a minute we were like, 'We need to get off the bus.'"

The bus driver pulled over, and everyone on board evacuated.

“Bus driver pulled over, and he thought we’d blown a tire, and he stepped off the bus and looked and there were flames coming off the side,” said Stanford track coach Chris Miltenberg. “He stepped back on, asked us all to get off and we moved pretty quick.”

Traffic was backed up for miles as crews worked to put out the flames.

All 31 people who were on board were safe. A Metro bus picked up the team and took them to an invitational meet at the University of Washington.

Investigators believe that the fire may have been sparked by overheated brakes and a blown out rear tire of the charter bus.