Bus from New York to Baltimore burns on Jersey Turnpike

A bus from New York to Baltimore caught fire around noon Saturday and became "fully engulfed" in flames on the southbound side of the New Jersey Turnpike, police said.

There were 11 passengers on board the bus and all were evacuated unharmed, said a spokesman for the Cranbury Station of the New Jersey State Police. The fire took place near Exit 8A, about three hours north of Baltimore on Interstate 95.

"The fire started after a right rear tire blow out, the driver pulled over to assess the situation, then continued to the nearest service station before noticing smoke coming from the rear wheel well," Simon Fitzgerald, a passenger on the bus, said in an e-mail Saturday evening. "He pulled over again, and evacuated the bus."

Fitzgerald said he bought his bus ticket from Washington-based MVP Bus Corp. The company could not be reached by phone Saturday night.

The bus left New York at 11 a.m. and was on the road for about an hour before trouble started, Fitzgerald said.

"The fire quickly grew," he said. "The fire caught the fuel tank and the driver, who had been on the phone, turned to run farther from the bus. Numerous fire engines responded, and extinguished the fire."

The bus was scheduled to arrive in Baltimore around 2:30 p.m., but the passengers had to wait after the fire at a nearby rest area and did not get back to Baltimore until the early evening, Fitzgerald said.