Dr. Oz Films Bus Fire Involving Students From Maryland
BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Art students at a Prince George's County High School are left with charred and mangled instruments after their bus went up in flames Sunday afternoon.
The band from Northwestern High School in Hyattsville, evacuated their bus on the shoulder of the New Jersey Turnpike, as the cabin of the bus started to fill with smoke.
"We didn't really hear anything, but the bus driver said 'hmm, I think we popped a tire,'" said band director Anthony Townes.
Within minutes, the bus was engulfed.
One of the first to pull over was TV's Doctor Oz, who recorded video of the fire on his cell phone after making sure all students were out safely.
Students scrambled to rescue instruments from the burning bus but cases were scorched. Many instruments are now far too damaged to make music again.
"When I saw some of the instruments that they pulled, it was like, charred beyond repair," said Camila Surujballi, a senior who plays the flute. "I honestly teared up myself because I know how it feels, like if that was my instrument, I would break down crying."
The band at Northwestern is special. Students apply to get into the esteemed arts program.
Their trip to New York was a masters workshop with the musicians of Wicked.
But without instruments, their next gig--the Maryland State Assessment Festival--almost didn't happen.
That is, until the flutes and oboes and string instruments from music stores and other school systems came pouring in.
"This really gives us a little bit of hope that we can actually pull this off," said Surujballi.
Emotional, Townes said he was amazed by the generosity of several Baltimore and D.C. area stores that showed up Monday morning with armfuls of instruments.
"They just opened up their doors. They're bringing new instruments for the kids to play," said Townes, through tears.
The donated instruments are on lend until the school and musicians can figure out how to replace them. For now, they all head to the State Assessment in harmony, with an outpouring of support.
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