Jan. 09--UPDATED at 9 a.m. with details from fire chief.
MAPLEWOOD --A Metro bus caught fire in Maplewood before 7 a.m. today in the 7600 block of Folk Avenue, off South Big Bend Boulevard.
Only two passengers and the driver were on the bus at the time of the fire. They got off safely.
Metro spokeswoman Patti Beck said the fire started in the rear of the #2 Red Line bus. The bus engines are in the rear, but it was too soon to say if the fire started in the engine, she said.
The bus had to be towed because the rear tires burned. The two passengers went on their way on their own and didn't wait for a replacement bus, Beck said.
Maplewood Fire Chief Terry J. Merrell said the fire started in the rear of the bus in or near the engine compartment and rear wheels. The fire spread to the inside of the bus through the windows after the passengers got out.
Someone reported hearing an explosion, but Merrell said it appears the sound was from an exploding tire damaged by fire.
Because the fire was on a public transit bus, Merrell said, arson investigators are taking a look. However, "it is not believe at this time to be anything more than a mechanical failure that caused the fire," Merrell said.
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