The fire that damaged a privately-owned bus Thursday evening appears to have started from a blown rear tire.
The two occupants of the bus, the driver and his passenger, safely evacuated after determining the bus was on fire.
Fire investigators determined that the 54-year-old driver had purchased the bus Thursday at an auction in El Paso. He and his passenger were driving it to Santa Fe and exited I-25 at University Avenue at about 9 p.m.on Thursday, June 15. As the bus headed from the I-25 exit east on University Avenue, the two occupants noticed the fire in a rear drivers-side wheel well and stopped the bus on Don Roser Drive.
Investigators believe the fire started after the inner-rear wheel on the driver’s side suffered a blowout, most likely at highway speed. The friction of the blown wheel traveling at highway speed likely caused extensive heat and the fire.
Witnesses described hearing a small explosion which was most likely the outer-rear wheel bursting after the bus was stopped and before the fire was extinguished.
The Las Cruces Fire Department extinguished the fire within minutes and no injuries were reported. The bus appears to have formerly been used as a corrections department transport vehicle but is now privately-owned.
Information from Las Cruces Police