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Burning Apple Commuter Bus Sparks Interstate 280 Wildfire Near Portola Valley

PORTOLA VALLEY (CBS SF) -- A large commuter bus for Apple employees caught fire along Interstate 280 on the Peninsula Wednesday morning, sparking a two-acre wildfire, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The double-decker bus was traveling southbound on I-280 near Portola Valley. Video from Chopper 5 showed the burned-out bus on the Alpine Road off-ramp.

Apple bus fire
Apple bus fire (credit Steve Jurvetson)

The bus driver pulled over onto the off-ramp from after noticing the flames at about 10:30, the CHP said. He was able to leave the bus and no other occupants were on board.

Woodside Fire Protection District Chief Rob Lindner said the fire was likely caused by a tire blowout, which led to a tire rim or axle hitting the road and creating sparks.

The flames then jumped to dry vegetation on the side of southbound Highway 280 about a quarter-mile before the driver noticed the flames and pulled over.

Firefighters from Woodside, Menlo Park, Redwood City and Palo Alto responded to the scene, in addition to the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and the CHP.

The two fires were under control in about 30 minutes. Cal Fire officials said shortly after noon that forward progress of the fire had been stopped, and shared photos on social media of the burned skeleton of the bus.

"We had a vehicle fire, a bus going down the road," said Cal Fire Battalion Chief Chris Jacobson. "(The fire) got into the wildland, forward progress was stopped, total acreage is about two acres."

The bus is a total loss and will be removed from the scene by a tow truck. Lindner said the bus driver sustained minor hand injuries but refused treatment at the scene.


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