VIDEO: School bus catches fire, rolls down I-94 in Maplewood, Mi - KMSP-TV

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VIDEO: School bus catches fire, rolls down I-94 in Maplewood, Minn.

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MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (KMSP) -

Rolling along the eastbound Interstate 94 and Century Avenue ramp in Maplewood was a frightful sight -- a school bus engulfed in flames.

The Minnesota State Patrol confirmed no injuries were reported and no students were riding a school bus that caught fire Tuesday afternoon, but the incident blocked a lane of westbound traffic near Century Avenue shortly after 3 p.m.

DRAMATIC VIDEO

At one point, the flaming school bus started to roll down the road, directly toward a parked fire engine. Video of the bus fire was submitted to Fox 9 News by Tom Linnell.

“She's rolling! Hey, it’s rolling!” someone yells, before the fire truck is put in reverse to avoid a crash with the burning bus. The bus eventually came to rest in a grassy ditch next to the Merit Chevrolet dealership.

The preliminary investigation suggests the fire may have started in the engine compartment, according to State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske.

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“At first it was pretty intense, wondering if there were kids in there," said witness, Ron Hogan. "Scary."

Maplewood Fire Chief Steve Lukin told FOX 9 News the bus driver had just dropped off his last load of students. After the driver noticed a burning smell, he pulled the school bus over. Meanwhile, Hogan was looking on.

“I ran outside quick I asked the bus driver was just coming off the bus and he was carrying his lunch pail, so it didn't look to threatening,” Hogan recalled.

The driver was outside glaring at his bus -- but five minutes later, the scene changed.

“It just started in flames. Then it escalated pretty quickly from there. Flames just went through the whole cab," Hogan said. "Cars were driving by and the stoplight was red. Next thing you know they were backing up and cars were sitting right next to it.”

While on the scene, Lukin said his crew encountered another startling close call.

“They were in the process of pulling out their inch and a half lines to make an attack on the bus and then the bus decided to start coming down the ramp way,” he said.

The flame-engulfed bus then got within inches of the fire rig. Luckily, the bus then steered itself onto the ditch.

Wthin minutes the fire was completely put out.

“You hear of close calls like that but I tell ya what, in my 37 years, I can tell you I never seen one or been there when it's been that close of a call, and I really don't want to see one again,” smiled Chief Lukin.

Lukin believes the fire started in the engine compartment. An investigation into what caused the fire could take up to 60 days.


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