Updated: Driver escapes as fire breaks out on coach bus in Plaistow
PLAISTOW - The driver of a coach bus escaped injury Monday morning when the rear of the bus she was driving caught fire as she was heading to Portsmouth to pick up passengers for a trip to Foxwoods Resort Casino.
The fire broke out shortly before 6:30 a.m. on the bus operated by the Plaistow-based Coach Company. Company president Benton Smith said the driver had just left the shop at 11 Wentworth Ave. and took a right onto Route 125 when she smelled something and turned into the Shaw's Supermarket parking lot.
The driver attempted to quickly return to the bus company when the bus stalled behind Shaw's and the fire broke out. The driver evacuated the bus, and mechanics from the bus company rushed to the scene and used three fire extinguishers, but Smith said the fire continued to burn despite their efforts to knock it down.
Firefighters arrived a short time later and put out the flames within about 10 minutes, Fire Chief John McArdle said. The fire heavily damaged the rear of the 2004 Prevost H 345 touring bus, Smith said.
McArdle said the fire was likely caused by a mechanical problem as it appears to have started in the engine compartment, which is located at the back of the bus.
'I don't suspect anything suspicious,' McArdle said.
Smith said he's not sure what caused the fire. Fortunately, Smith said, the bus wasn't carrying passengers and the driver was able to escape unharmed.
This is the Coach Company's second bus fire in 52 years, Smith said, adding that the company has earned the federal Department of Transportation's top safety rating. "It shows the quality of our maintenance," he said.