Bus Carrying Chicago High School Students Catches Fire Near Saugatuck
Although a group of 38 students from a Chicago high school were promised a “hot time” in Michigan, no one thought that a real fire was going to be part of the package!
But that’s exactly what the students and two chaperones found themselves having to deal with when the bus they were riding in caught fire near Saugatuck’s Exit 41 on southbound I-196 Wednesday (Feb. 25).
The group was safely removed from the flaming bus and then all hoofed it to Spectators Bar & Grill on Blue Star Highway for warmth and some good eating while they waited for new transportation.
The incident happened about 3:10 p.m. No one was hurt.
Saugatuck Township firefighters - joined by the Graafschap Fire Department - were immediately on the scene, along with local police help secure the scene and fight the flame-and-smoke-filled bus.
Firefighters were seen ripping away metal siding of the vehicle and punching through its roof to ensure they extinguished the fire.
The driver of the bus told authorities he heard a loud popping sound from the rear of the vehicle and then saw flames shooting from the rear axle. He then stopped the bus and helped make sure all the students and chaperones exited safely.
The driver, whose name was not released, then grabbed a fire extinguisher and fought the blaze until help arrived.
The Michigan State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division have launched an investigation into the incident.
The back third of the bus appeared severely damaged.
The students had just visited Grand Valley State University as part of a field trip and were on the way home back to Chicago when the fire broke out.
Police provided them an escort as they all walked down the middle of the road while coming off the expressway ramp.
The staff at Spectators provided them with food and soft drinks while they waited for a new ride home.
Another bus arrived a short time later and picked up the unlucky travelers and brought them safely home.
Traffic became snarled and backed up as the firefighters battled the blaze along the highway. It wasn’t until almost 4:30 p.m. that cars were able to clear the area and move past the charred remains of the bus.