A transit bus caught fire yesterday morning, and the passengers had their very own superhero aboard. A man took off his coat to reveal a firefighter uniform and started assisting the passengers.
Hugo Sotelo, a Bellvue Fire Department inspector was riding the Route 566 bus when he heard a pop.
"It sounded like the tire going. Everybody heard it that wasn't asleep," said Sotelo.
The bus driver pulled over, thinking it was a flat tire. When he saw that a fire had ignited, he began to calmly evacuate the passengers.
"He got out of the rig, realized the severity and got everyone out," said Sotelo. He then called 9-1-1.
Soon after everyone was evacuated, "there were flames going from underneath the wheel well and going upward into the bus."
"I know the severity and what the fire can do," said Sotelo (a fire investigator for fires and building fire prevention). "I had to get them out of there."
Passing drivers brought fire extinguishers to the group of people, but Sotelo said, "those little extinguishers aren't going to do it."
Sotelo noticed signs that the fire was venting. This will accelerate the flames or even cause an explosion.
"When I saw venting, I had to get people even farther back. Pressure's pressure and it it's going to explode, it will."
Sotelo tried to move the passengers back, but no one was listening, so he whipped off his coat to reveal his firefighter uniform. That's when passengers began to listen. He pushed the passengers 50 feet back just in time. The flames started to reach 15-20 feet in the air and 6 feet sideways.
Two firefighting trucks and a ladder truck soon arrived and doused the bus.
"I do commend the bus driver for being calm and getting everybody out. If you get everyone in a panic situation to exit, it can be hazardous," Sotelo said.
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