Megabus stops in Lake Forest after fire

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A Minneapolis-bound Megabus stopped in north suburban Lake Forest after it caught fire. (WLS)

A Minneapolis-bound Megabus stopped near north suburban Lake Forest after it caught fire.

The bus, which was on its way to Minneapolis, Minn., caught fire while driving on Route 41 between Route 176 and Lake Forest Hospital.

Passengers say the driver pulled over after hearing a loud pop followed by visible smoke coming from a tire.

"We checked the smoke and started walking a little bit away and then maybe 30 seconds later after we all got back about 50 feet, we heard a loud boom, big explosion, and the bus went on fire, smoke maybe 30 feet in the air," said Alec Grych, who was traveling on the bus.

"I could hardly get off the bus because it was full of black smoke, and as I got off to to catch my breath the bus blew up again," says passenger Russicha Watkins. "Fire came from everywhere."

Everyone made it off the bus safely, and passengers had praise for the driver's efforts.

"He was trying to risk his own life by trying to throw our luggage out, but he couldn't because the smoke was too dangerous," Watkins says. "It was a scary situation."

By the time the fire department arrived the bus was fully engulfed with flames and smoke, and it was too late to save any luggage.

"When they arrived on location it was fully involved," says Lake Forest Fire Chief Pete Siebert. "They did get a note that all the passengers and the driver were accounted for and had gotten off the vehicle, so they started a fire-fighting operation."

"I lost everything I owned, like, all my clothes, everything," said Meranda Medley. "I don't have anything left."

Because the fire occurred so close to Lake Forest Hospital, passengers walked to the hospital where they waited for about an hour for a second bus to continue on to Minneapolis.

"We had a long hike over there, we walked through woods, ice, sticks, snow," says passenger Michelle Grant. "Terrible, terrible."

While an official cause for the fire has not been identified, some passengers claim the problems with the bus began right after departure.

"It started in Chicago," said Deandre Bea. "We smelled rubber and he continued to drive that was smelling rubber, I don't know what he would do that."

Megabus issued a statement shortly after the incident.

" can confirm that one of our vehicles travelling from Chicago, IL heading towards Minneapolis, MN was involved in an incident today near Waukegan, IL," said Sean Hughes, director of corporate affairs, Coach USA North America. "Safety is our top priority and is fully cooperating with the authorities with their investigation into the incident."
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