All passengers were evacuated from a bus that caught fire on Interstate 405.

Share story

A Sound Transit bus on the shoulder of northbound Interstate 405 caught fire before 6:45 a.m. Wednesday near Interstate 90.

Thirty passengers were safely evacuated by a quick-thinking bus driver, said Kimberly Reason, a Sound Transit spokeswoman.

A Bellevue fire inspector who happened to be a passenger helped keep fellow passengers safe when flames engulfed the bus.

A backup bus arrived at 7:20 a.m. to take the Route 566 passengers to their destination. The bus travels between Auburn and Overlake.

Two lanes on northbound I-405 were initially blocked by fire-response vehicles.

Lt. Ryan Armstrong, a public-information officer for the Bellevue Fire Department, said it took about seven minutes for a fire engine to arrive on the scene. An extra ladder and engine were called to the scene because hydrant access can be difficult on I-405.

At 9:15 a.m., one lane was closed on I-405. Washington State Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Allende said maintenance crews were trying to tow the bus from the scene of the fire, but were “having some issues getting the bus stabilized.”

Commutes during the morning rush hour on I-405 took about twice as long.

Allende said part of the slowdown was due to drivers’ interest in the wreck.

“It’s a major distraction when you see a bus that’s been charred to a crisp,” he said.