Mattress May Have Been Cause of AC Transit Bus Fire

Evan Walbridge/Photo

Related Articles »

  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

Fire began spouting from an AC Transit 18 line bus as it grumbled its way into its usual stop at Dwight Way and Shattuck Avenue on Monday.

As the bus driver pulled up to the stop, nearby cars began honking, calling her attention to a white cloud of smoke puffing from the back of the bus, said passenger and UC Berkeley junior Kelly Eng. The driver investigated and ran back to the front of the bus, shouting to warn the passengers and instruct them to disembark.

"She kept asking us why we weren't getting off the bus fast enough," Eng said.

The vehicle's 12 to 15 passengers were safely herded from the bus with the driver's help just in time - shortly after being evacuated, the rear of the bus was engulfed in flames.

Firefighters from the Berkeley Fire Department arrived on the scene at about 12:35 p.m., by which time heavy fire and black smoke could be seen from other parts of the city - as far away as City Hall - said Deputy Fire Chief Gilbert Dong.

Spectators gathered to watch as firefighters brought the blaze under control at approximately 12:50 p.m., according to Sabina Imrie, the department's assistant fire chief for special operations. The bus was then towed away for further investigation by the department, Dong said.

He said the fire was caused by a combustible object that got caught behind the bus's right wheel well. As the object - what appeared to be a mattress - was dragged along the roadway, friction and heat intensified and triggered the fire. The flames then spread from the right undercarriage to the back portion of the bus.

Although the bus was an older model, its age was not a factor in the fire, said AC Transit spokesperson Clarence Johnson.

Both Dong and Johnson noted that the incident was an uncommon occurrence.

"It's the first time in my career that I've heard of a major bus fire," Dong said.

Although no nearby buildings were exposed to the fire, the surface of the roadway was melted, sustaining damage that will have to be repaired by the Berkeley Public Works Department, according to Dong.

Johnson said the bus driver was shaken and traumatized by the experience and has not yet returned to work as of Wednesday.


Contact Noor Al-Samarrai at [email protected]

Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
Parking and Transportation
Image AC Transit to hold public hearing to discuss possi...
An AC Transit staff recommendation aimed at ins...Read More»
Parking and Transportation
Image Disabilities service center opens in South Berkele...
Members of the disabled community, elected officials and city st...Read More»
Parking and Transportation
Image BART on Track to Replace Train Cars by 2023
In order to accommodate for a projected increase in commuters and updat...Read More»
Parking and Transportation
Image Flames Engulf AC Transit Bus
No one was injured during a fire Monday that reduced an AC Transit bus to a...Read More»
Parking and Transportation
Image Plans for People's Park Parking Meters May Cut Cri...
Plans to possibly install additional parking meters around Peop...Read More»
Parking and Transportation
Image AC Transit, Community Members Address Deficit
A Wednesday meeting of AC Transit's board of directors was dominated b...Read More»
Right Arrow

Job Postings

White Space