News release from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue
On Sunday, April 29, a charter bus carrying thirty-two passengers was traveling on I-495. Suddenly, there was a loud boom and smoke could be seen coming from outside the bus. The bus pulled to the side of the road and the driver and a passenger got out to examine the damage. A tire had blown and sparks were seen coming from that area. They immediately yelled for the other passengers to get off the bus. They began to exit just as the side of the bus caught fire and smoke began to fill the cabin. As the terrified passengers, many who were older adults, attempted to get off the bus, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department arrived and sprang into action. They assisted in getting everyone off the bus while also putting out the growing fire coming from the bus.
With a large group of passengers on the side of a busy highway and no projected time for a replacement bus, FCFRD dispatched the bus from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Training Academy to take the passengers to Fire Station 22, Springfield, where they could stay until a replacement bus was secured.
Fire Station 22 opened up their bingo hall and provided canteen snacks to the weary passengers. Battalion Chief Edmonston worked with the Virginia Department of Transportation, Fairfax County Office of Emergency Management, and the bus company to expedite transportation to get them on their way.
While they waited, Battalion Chief Williams helped tend to their food and welfare needs. One person had lost their medication. BC Williams made contact with the passenger’s out of state doctor in an attempt to get a medication refill. When it became clear it would be a few hours before a replacement bus arrived, firefighters and volunteers from FS22 ordered pizza for the group.
Passenger Andrea Bryant Wardrick said of her experience, “When the firefighters and medics arrived on scene they sprang into action and treated us with nothing but love, kindness, and comfort. We were blessed to have the best team in the world helping us. They stayed with us the entire time and went out of their way to keep us safe, secure, and out of harm’s way.”
A special thank you to Greater Springfield Volunteer Fire Station President Jaime Nguyen, Firefighter/EMT SunJin Hunt, and all the personnel at Fire Station 22 who pitched in to help keep the bus passengers safe.