Passengers on board a Megabus headed from Chicago to Minneapolis had a terrifying ordeal on Sunday after the bus caught fire.
The fire started around 12:15 p.m. local time on the southbound lane on Route 41 in Illinois, according to Lake Forest fire officials. Forty passengers were on board.
“We heard a loud boom and the bus went up in smoke, probably 30 feet in the air,” one passenger told reporters at the scene.
Another passenger, Terry Griffin, said he was moving from Chicago and lost all of his belongings.
“I lost everything. Me and my brother. My social security card, all my clothes, because I was trying to move, trying to start over,” Griffin said.
The bus erupted in flames just moments after all the passengers and the driver had exited the bus. The bus sustained extensive damage and the cause of the fire is under investigation, fire officials said. No one was injured.
"Safety is our top priority and Megabus is fully cooperating with the authorities and their investigation into the incident," according to a statement from Sean Hughes, director of corporate affairs for Coach USA North America (Megabus is a subsidiary of Coach USA).
Many of the passengers said there were signs of problems early on in the trip.
“Some people said they smelled burning,” Lucas Peterson, a New York Times columnist who happened to be on board, said. “The driver kept pulling over to the side so it seemed clear there was something wrong with the bus.”
Peterson was reporting a story about the bus carrier that offers fares for as low as a dollar.
Last year another Megabus caught fire in upstate New York after a tire blew. In 2012, there was a massive fire on a Megabus in Georgia. The cause was determined to be a blown tire.
Federal law allows passenger carriers to select their own inspectors but these buses also record trip data – much like an airplane’s black box. The information will help investigators determine what caused this near-deadly incident.