The fire was extinguished shortly before 3 p.m., but caused significant traffic delays into the evening.
A charter bus carrying Stanford University’s track team caught fire on Interstate 5 at South Spokane Street early Friday afternoon. The accident closed northbound lanes and caused miles-long backups for much of the evening commute.
There were no reported injuries and all 31 occupants of the bus were accounted for, Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Kristin Tinsley said in an email.
The fire started shortly after 2 p.m. and closed all northbound lanes of traffic for nearly an hour. Traffic troubles continued even after the fire was extinguished around 2:50 p.m., as WSDOT crews cleaned spilled fluids and the bus was towed away. All lanes reopened around 6 p.m., but traffic was still stop-and-go in the area.
At its worst, the incident caused a 4-mile backup on northbound I-5, and the southbound commute from Northgate to the West Seattle Bridge took more than an hour.
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Sound Transit buses going into and out of Seattle were delayed up to a half-hour because of the fire. King County Metro buses also experienced significant delays that stretched into rush hour because of an influx of drivers using alternative routes.
WSDOT crews didn’t find any initial structural damage to I-5 or the bridge, a spokeswoman from the Seattle mayor’s office said in an email.
Stanford’s track team was on its way to a meet at the University of Washington when the bus caught fire, team spokesman David Kiefer said. The team announced on Twitter that it would compete as scheduled.