Megabus catches fire on I-85 near SC-GA line - CBS46 News

Megabus catches fire on I-85 near SC-GA line

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Fire gutted a Megabus headed to Charlotte from Atlanta Wednesday. (Aug. 8, 2012/FOX Carolina) Fire gutted a Megabus headed to Charlotte from Atlanta Wednesday. (Aug. 8, 2012/FOX Carolina)
HARTWELL, GA (FOX Carolina) -

A Megabus traveling on Interstate 85 from Atlanta to Charlotte caught fire Wednesday afternoon in Hart County, shutting down the northbound side of the highway.

The bus stopped near mile marker 179, just south of the South Carolina state line about noon.

Some of the nearly 80 passengers on board told FOX Carolina that a tire blew. They said that as the bus was trying to stop, something in the back overheated and caught fire.

Passengers said the driver was a hero, pulling over the bus and safely and quickly evacuating it.

"She got everybody off the bus, and then the bus went up in flames after that. So she did a very good job," said passenger Samaad Stewart.

As soon as the passengers were evacuated, they said they turned around to see the rear of the bus engulfed in flames.

SLIDESHOW: Megabus catches fire near SC-GA line

Passengers were taken on a school bus to a nearby restaurant to await for another Megabus to take them on to Charlotte. They finally made it to North Carolina more than 8 hours later on a new bus. Read more about their Charlotte arrival here.

None of the passengers, including 15 children, were injured.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Northbound lanes of the interstate reopened around 6:30 p.m. The Georgia Department of Transportation said there was a 19-mile traffic back up for most of the day.

Megabus, a discount bus line that sells fares as cheap as $1 online, has been in the news recently for two crashes that resulted in death. The first happened Aug. 2, when one of the company's double-decker buses hit a support pillar of an Illinois overpass, killing one passenger and injuring dozens more. On Tuesday, a Chicago woman was killed when she was hit by the mirror of a passing Megabus.

In a statement to FOX Carolina, COO Dale Moser said safety is the company's first priority. He said the company has invested more than $150 million in new buses to better monitor performance.

The recent Megabus incidents have many passengers wondering about bus lines and safety in general.

Tammy Dankovich, vice president of the Better Business Bureau in Greenville, said customers should check out a bus company with the BBB to see how many complaints or issues others have had with them.

In the last three years, Megabus had 324 complaints filed with the BBB. Passengers are reminded to check the bus company's policy in case of a breakdown, to see how long they have been in business and if they have a Department of Transportation license.

Dankovich said all buses have to be federally licensed. She said passengers should verify their license number and can use it to check their current and past safety rating.

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