Update, 6:45 p.m. Berkeley Fire Department spokesman Deputy Chief Avery Webb said the bus that caught fire Friday morning was a Storer Coachways tourist bus with 21 passengers. Webb said Berkeley firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 11:16 a.m. for a fire that affected the engine compartment of the bus. Smoke from the fire made its way into the passenger compartment, but the fire itself did not spread beyond the engine area. All the passengers on the bus had gotten off by the time firefighters arrived, and Storer quickly sent another bus to pick them up. No injuries were reported. Berkeley firefighters extinguished the fire when they arrived to the scene, on Interstate 80 between Ashby and University avenues. Webb said there were multiple helicopters in the area as emergency crews responded.
Update, 1:45 p.m. 511.org reports that there are “residual delays” on eastbound I-80 near University Avenue in Berkeley after Friday’s bus fire, but that all lanes are open as of 1:45 p.m.
Update, 1:34 p.m. Via 511.org: “On Friday, March 28th at 1:20pm, the Severe Traffic Alert remains in effect on Eastbound I-80 before University Ave. in Berkeley. The right lane is closed due to a bus fire. Motorists are advised to expect delays and avoid the area. There is no estimated time to reopen the roadway.”
Original story, 12:17 p.m. A tour bus caught fire on Interstate 80 near University Avenue in Berkeley on Friday morning, and a traffic advisory has been issued due to closed lanes on the highway, authorities said.
511.org has reported that “there is a Severe Traffic Alert in effect on Eastbound I-80 before University Ave in Berkeley. The right lanes are closed due to a bus fire. Motorists are advised to expect delays and avoid the area. There is no estimated time to reopen the roadway.”
According to preliminary information posted online by the California Highway Patrol dispatch center, a report of “black smoke” came in at 11:16 a.m., which was determined quickly to be a “tour bus on fire.”
Flames were reported to be visible in the back of the bus at 11:28 a.m.
Two lanes were blocked, and officers from the California Highway Patrol responded to the scene.
Oakland-area CHP spokesman Sean Wilkenfeld said the bus was reported to have been “fully engulfed in flames,” but that everyone was able to get off safely and that nobody was injured.
Firefighters put out the fire, he said.
As of 11:34 a.m., no more flames were reported to be visible. The bus was described as a 3-axle tour bus with a 20-person capacity.
Members of the public reported a helicopter on scene in West Berkeley near University Avenue.
According to a preliminary report from the CHP, the rear part of the bus was burned, but the front was in tact.
A “full size big rig tow” truck was requested by authorities at 11:35 a.m.
Berkeleyside will update this post as more information becomes available, and will confirm this information with authorities.