Campus Shuttle Catches Fire

    Passengers on a shuttle traveling toward Regents Lot were forced to evacuate the vehicle shortly after noon on Feb. 21, when the bus caught on fire in what police are calling a probable hydraulic fluid leak.

    Will Parson/Guardian
    A shuttle going to Regents Lot caught fire in the Geisel Library turnaround area on Feb. 21, forcing the shuttle driver to evacuate the passengers. No one was hurt and the fire was extinguished.

    Approximately 15 passengers were evacuated from the shuttle after the engine began smoking at about 12:20 p.m., UCSD police Cpl. Arnold D. Moss said.

    The bus was leaving a turnabout near Geisel Library when it began to stall, according to Sixth College junior Diego Mejia, who was driving the shuttle at the time. He turned the vehicle back on, only to have it stall again soon after.

    “”I told [shuttle supervisors] my bus wouldn’t work,”” Mejia said. “”There weren’t any warnings; it just stalled.””

    At that point, the shuttle’s engine had begun to emit smoke. Mejia then evacuated the passengers to another vehicle. One of the riders, a friend of Mejia’s, returned to the bus to tell him that the engine had caught fire.

    “”We saw black smoke coming out of the engine, and the driver told us to get out,”” said Thurgood Marshall College junior Daniel Kil, a passenger on the shuttle. “”As we were walking to the next shuttle, we saw the engine was on fire.””

    According to Mejia, his supervisors instructed him to put the flames out with an extinguisher, but the attempt was unsuccessful.

    “”It was like trying to blow on the fire,”” he said.

    The UCSD Police Department and firefighters responded to the scene, and the blaze was extinguished quickly, Senior UCSD Communications Adviser Paul K. Mueller said. Workers from the Environmental Health and Safety Office arrived later to clean up the spilled fluid.

    Mueller said he was not aware whether other campus shuttles would be given safety inspections in light of the incident.

    “”It probably isn’t all that uncommon, but it’s the kind of thing you’d hope to spot in a routine inspection,”” Mueller said.

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