JV football team’s bus catches fire

9-5-13-Bus-Fire Jacob Schaefer
The bus carrying the Central Catholic JV football team to a game in Hillsboro caught fire along U.S. 26 Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. Everyone got off the bus safely. (Report It, Jacob Schaefer)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Blue Star charter bus carrying about 30 members of the Central Catholic JV football team exploded in flames along U.S. 26 just outside of downtown Portland around 5 p.m. Thursday.

The team was on its way to Hillsboro Stadium to play a game against Sheldon High School.

A bus caught on fire along US-26 at Jefferson in Portland, Sept. 5, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
JV football players crowd alongside U.S. 26 at Jefferson Sept. 5, 2013, as their charter bus goes up in flames. (KOIN 6 News)

The father of one of those football players talked to KOIN 6 News Thursday at 5:11 p.m.

“There was a break-down and all of a sudden, I guess, it caught on fire,” said the dad.

He said about 30 kids were on the bus, with five to seven adults also on board.

“My son called, and they said the coaches and the parents on the bus got everyone off the bus…,” he said. “Once it broke down, they got everyone back safe, but obviously they’re scared.”

Original 911 callers reported the bus had flames coming from beneath it, according to Portland Fire & Rescue. Fire crews navigated  rush-hour traffic to get to the scene; by that time, “crews reported that the bus was fully involved,” according to Portland Fire.

The bus carrying the Central Catholic JV football team to a game in Hillsboro caught fire along US-26. Everyone got off the bus safely, Sept. 5, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
The charred charter bus after catching fire along U.S. 26 Thursday, Sept. 5, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

As of 5:16 p.m. Thursday, U.S. 26 lanes westbound from Interstate 405 near Jefferson were closed “to allow firefighters to work safely,” the Portland Police Bureau reported. A water supply line had to be strung along the highway.

“Highway fire hydrants are spaced much farther apart than those found in neighborhoods or business districts,” Portland Fire reports, “so locating and connecting to a usable one, with the density of the traffic, created some difficulty…”

The Jefferson on-ramp to westbound U.S. 26 also was shut down. As of 8:55 p.m., that on-ramp had reopened. PF&R fire investigators had already responded to the scene to try to determine how the fire began.

Kickoff for the Central Catholic-Sheldon JV game had been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday but the game was canceled.

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