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Crystal Shuttle fire alarms passengers

By Tate Herbert
On March 27, 2012

A Crystal Shuttle bus briefly caught on fire for unknown reasons as it was returning to campus from Cambridge last Friday night, according to University Police reports and accounts of student passengers. The Waltham Fire Department extinguished the fire and no injuries were reported.

Students on the bus first detected smoke as the bus was pulling onto Loop Road at about 10:35 p.m., according to University Police's report. The bus pulled to a stop in front of the Stoneman building, and the passengers and driver evacuated the bus out the two main doors.

"I was sitting near the front of the bus, and I heard someone yell, ...'The bus is smoking,'" said Rohan Narayanan '15 in an interview with the Justice. Narayanan was one of two students who ran inside Stoneman and notified the Department of Public Safety that the bus was on fire.

The other student, Avi Cohen '15, said that he was near the back of the bus when the fire started. "I was sitting with a friend in the back of the bus when people started yelling at the driver to pull off the road because there was smoke coming from the back of the shuttle. I turned around and there was smoke inside the bus coming out of the back wall," Cohen wrote in an email to the Justice.

"When someone yelled, 'There's smoke in the back of the bus,' it was like instant panic," said Narayanan. "The moment [the bus] stopped, everyone kind of, like, jumped up and was, like, pushing people. ... I was lucky to be in the front of the bus, so I got out quickly."

The section under the bus' back bumper was emitting smoke, sparks and some flames, according to Narayanan.

Ethan Roseman '15, who was also on the bus that night, confirmed in an email to the Justice that he saw sparks and what appeared to be "pieces of burning material falling out of the bottom of the bus, near the back."

The Waltham Fire Department and University Police came to the scene and told the passengers and driver to leave the area while they attended to the bus. Many of the students went to Cholmondeley's, according to Narayanan, from where he and others saw the firemen reduce the amount of smoke coming from the bus.

Roseman said that, after the initial evacuation of the bus, he and the other passengers "then ran even further away, in fear that the bus could explode. No one initially knew how severe this fire was, so the best option was to be far away."

Narayanan estimated that there were about 40 students on the bus at the time. "It was pretty full," he said. "A lot of my friends were standing because there were no seats available," Roseman wrote.

"It was a very, very stressful situation for the first minute or so. I was honestly afraid that my friends and I could have been seriously hurt before we managed to get off of that bus," said Roseman. "I'm also shocked that something like this happened in the first place."

Police reports detailed that the Crystal Shuttle dispatcher was notified to have the malfunctioning bus towed off-campus as soon as possible.

Public Safety officials and the general manager of the Crystal Shuttles did not respond to requests for comment by press time. 


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