SAN FRANCISCO—On Monday, February 29, a small passenger shuttle bus caught fire and caused flames and thick black smoke to destroy several gas station pumps at a Chevron station on Ninth and Howard Streets.
According to officials, the shuttle was reported to be only four years old. The driver, who was later identified as Ernie Intiro, indicated the vehicle had begun smoking and quickly erupted in flames after he parked at the gas station.
Several San Francisco Fire Department units arrived at the scene, nearby witnesses reported seeing as many as eight vehicles. The SFFD did not report any injuries to victims from the incident, but one firefighter sustained non life-threatening injuries to his neck and back from the flames that caused debris to fall onto his body. The injured firefighter is expected to make a full recovery.
Authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the fire, and what the state of the vehicle was in prior to the incident. According to Intiro, the shuttle had been running without problems prior to the incident.
Officials from the SFFD reported Intiro had gone into the station because the engine was overheating. When he returned, smoke and flames were rising from the vehicle. Witnesses say when Intiro went to check under the hood of the bus and flames burst from the vehicle.
SFFD units were able to contain the fire. The station’s Chevron sign suffered severe damages. Zet Somantang, the Chevron employee working at the time of the fire, was able to successfully shut off the gas valves to protect the underground fuel tanks from being blown up by the flames.
Preliminary investigations have attributed the fire to the overheating of the shuttle’s tires, which may have caused the explosion. SFFD Assistant Chief Tom Siragusa stated, “I believe preliminarily that they were the tires that were exploding, though we’re evaluating the LPG tangs to see if that might’ve failed on the inner part of the vehicle.”